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AN OPEN LETTER TO LIBERTARIAN ACTIVISTS

By Paul Donovan  Posted by Jason Miller (about the submitter)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
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Dear Libertarians,

I sincerely appreciate the passion and sincerity you exhibit in your endeavors, and that is why I’d like to bring up a few points to your attention. These comments originate in my recent exposure to a very large number of posts commenting primarily on an article on the Thomas Paine’s Corner blog of Cyrano’s Journal, Annals of Stupidity: The Demise of Alexander Cockburn, by Gerald Rellick.

I discern in this thread what I have observed elsewhere, a tremendous infatuation by Libertarians with Rep. Ron Paul. That certainly strikes me as logical: Paul is one of your own. The point of divergence, however, is equally simple. The reasons and personal qualities you adduce for elevating Mr. Paul to the status of national saviour are matched, and in many dimensions clearly exceeded, by another political figure, Dennis Kucinich. What is the reason then for this partiality? I don’t want to get ahead of myself here but just let me say the following: the only conceivable reason I can find for your complete disregard of Rep. Kucinich as a serious candidate and his clear and courageous stands is that he is not a Libertarian in political philosophy, that is, he does not worship individualism at the expense of the commonwealth.

In this context, first let me remind everyone here, once again, that it was Dennis Kucinich who filed papers to impeach Dick Cheney in order to get the ball rolling to go after the whole Bush mafia, well before Ron Paul made statements to this effect, so in light of that fact, may I ask what are you all talking about by placing all the adoration on Paul and ignoring Kucinich’s obvious contributions? If we follow your logic, Kucinich bested Ron Paul because he is already (with little support from his own party of opportunistic cowards, or the media) actively seeking impeachment of those responsible in the Bush administration.

Furthermore, Kucinich is not a right-winger, and therefore, in my view, has tangible solutions in the works to solve many of our biggest problems.

I guess the central question is this: what kind of broad social change do you Libertarians really advocate?

With all due respect, what is libertarianism if not an anarchic, passionately ahistorical form of laissez-faire capitalism? The cowboy, frontier capitalism still embraced by inordinate numbers of people in the US (especially the Southwest and Texas), Australia, Alaska, and other places where the vastness of the land confuses the superficial thinker into believing that vastness equals infinity? With no Democratic strings attached to control the destructive power of markets and monopolies, a libertarian regime, just as its older sibling, the Victorian-style capitalist regime, would drive wages into the ground worse than they are doing now, eviscerate workers’ protection, make the workday longer to boost profits, while busy destroying what’s left of the environment—all in the name of sacred property rights. Would you privatize the EPA as well? Fact is, it is ahistoricalism that truly characterizes all bourgeois conceptions of history and reality, but in the case of Libertarians only more so, because here we witness a total disregard for the lessons of history, or the similarly obvious evolution of economic institutions.

Have we forgotten already the long list of abuses in the name of free enterprise, before the system was moderately tamed by social corrective action? Considering your rather brutal philosophy, the fact that so many in your ranks decry social security, employment compensation, and other buffers against personal disasters, may we ask again what is your opinion on child Labor? After all, a true Libertarian would argue that it is a child’s right to work and that’s that.

History books, volumes not exactly written by sworn enemies of capitalism, tell a different story. We can thank workers’ struggle for the abolition of child labor, not the wonders of the free market which thrives off of cheap labor sources, including the children of the poor. (Obviously the markets do not affect the destinies of the well-off, not to mention the real rich. As they used to say in “robber baron” days, both Rockefeller and the homeless are free to sleep under the bridges.)

Isn’t this the logic and morality of the Darwinist jungle? And what kind of “civilization” are you espousing that regards the “morality” of wild beasts as appropriate to humans? In reality, the uninhibited civil liberties you advocate translated into reality, as the right of employers to do whatever they like, whenever they like, to whomever they like, make for a very lopsided game…of course, in the mythicak world of perfect markets, if the workers don’t like it, they can simply go work somewhere else. If this is the best your imagination can conjure up, a “let’em eat cake” approach to enormous social injustice and distress, all in the name of a sustainable future for humankind, then I urgently suggest a different approach to the problem.

The reason we still have even a little bit of democracy left in this country is because of the workers’ struggle (hence the properly enshrined Labor Day, although it, too, has been eviscerated of meaning into a shopping extravaganza), and rarely explained in our “regular” history courses, a struggle that—we should all be reminded—has always benefited everyone in society except for the super-rich, the owning classes, and even they stand to gain in some specific areas. If you wish to investigate these statements, which may sound strange to many of you, you can always pick up Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States, or even better, Leo Huberman’s Man’s Worldly Goods. These books will be worth whole libraries in terms of opening your eyes to the reality we face, the truths that underlie our system and history. But just to sum up a previous point: All the safety nets we enjoy in this country have been provided—reluctantly and after much struggle—by the small bits of socialism that the masses have built into this capitalist nightmare.

In a system of laissez faire “free-market” capitalism (of course starting from point A, and thereby traveling back to the industrial revolution, and bypassing 250+ years of capitalist development) with little to no government, who would take care of public schools, roads, public works, social security, and what we have come to call Medicare? Obviously you might answer: no one, for you’d eliminate those as offshoots of your hated “Big Government.” But do you trust 401K that much? Remember there will be nobody to protect you in the event you are fired from your job, unless you are naïve enough to believe in corporate loyalty? And besides, think for a moment: there are many instances of social goods—highways, for example—which include gigantic social undertakings such as bridges, all of which necessitate the unification of social purpose, not its permanent disunity as you constantly preach. In a highly technologized and mobile society, do you imagine America without its habitual highway system, or punctuated by thousands of toll-booths collecting treasure for private landlords with uneven rates and maintenance records? We’d have more traffic jams than when we had public tolls operated by state and municipal authorities, all of which would also contribute powerfully to pollution, not to mention doctors’ bills as a result of additional heart attacks issuing from sheer frustration…And don’t forget the national bill for wasted gasoline. Need I go on?

Furthermore, without a standing military (and I certainly I am entirely against the current monster we have allowed to rise in our midst, the political-media-military-corporate hydra), how do you plan to defend our new hypothetical do-gooder capitalist nation in the event some other capitalist Leviathan, like China, or a unified capitalist Europe, or Japan, gets ambitious again and decides to invade our continent? Are you going to hire Black Water Mercenaries equipped with a new version of Microsoft Windows built into their cell phones to save us? I wonder how much would the private sector charge the people for a job like that? Is Robocop the future you believe in?

Despite the existence of state jobs, many of which still boast adequate medical coverage and pensions, libertarians feel —rather cavalierly—that it is in the best interest of “the private sector” to wipe social security off of the map, in all sectors of society. This is done in the name of eliminating all tax obligations, regarded dogmatically and, I may add, myopically, as “confiscatory.” Let me tell you something. Moneys handed over to the state are confiscatory when they fail to return value, or are used, in the trillions, to support criminal enterprises, like our foreign policy, or ferrying criminals like Dick Cheney or the “first decider,” from photo op to photo op in the comfort reserved for royalty. When taxes are well utilized, and people get their money’s worth, they tend to be a bargain. It boils down to the type of society you have. So the issue is not taxes per se but the rectitude and decency of the society you inhabit. That so many of you (and the public at large) are “turned off” to taxes is an eloquent commentary on today’s American society.

Hence, in such cases, you throw the baby out with the bath water, and go on blaming government for the WRONG THINGS. I’m not setting up a straw man for you, but rather, I am addressing in theory the disastrous impacts of complete privatization.

Libertarians are properly outraged by the corruption of corporate America, and the war mongering of the President, Congress, media, and the Pentagon, but on the road to American politico-economic discovery, you took a sharp right turn instead of making a left, and that is why you will not come up with any real solutions to this systemic problem. At best, you will have a decent critique of the “New World Order” as you put it, but you will have no clear understanding of what the root of “all evil” is, and that is private control over what the people have a god-given right to decide for themselves, such as healthcare, education, social goods such as museums, libraries, and emergency services, not to mention the guaranteed right to a civilized retirement and care in the golden years…Are you all so rich, so successful that you have no family, no friends in the crosshairs of Darwinism?

So, to restate: Your anger is directed at some of the right people, but your ideology is pointing in the wrong direction. You must open your eyes to the fact that you can’t have a moral capitalism. It’s an oxymoron. The unparalleled power of the politico-corporate entity, and its organic desire to control markets for new exploitable land, cheap labor, and resources to pillage is too strong and tempting to control. That is why, among other things, the people cannot control outsourcing, and why we are losing our essential jobs. At this juncture a Libertarian may argue that borders should be knocked down so capital can flow freely without the myriad of damaging effects inflicted on it by protectionist policies, yet you seem to omit skewed trade agreements which only benefit the most highly industrialized countries, all wrapped up on a pseudo-benevolent package, and sold to the public as a plan to help the less fortunate of the world, which now encompasses nearly the entire Southern Hemisphere sucked dry by colonialism, imperialism, and parasitic globalization.

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First, I'd like to mention a lot of Ron Paul s... by gg on Thursday, Jun 7, 2007 at 3:20:54 AM
Whoops, missed a point/paragraph: So, to restat... by gg on Thursday, Jun 7, 2007 at 3:51:40 AM
Today's libertarians don't understand libe... by Jimmy Montague on Thursday, Jun 7, 2007 at 11:07:56 AM
Thanks.... by David N-V on Thursday, Jun 7, 2007 at 1:07:27 PM
Too many people use the terms Libertarian and Libe... by David N-V on Thursday, Jun 7, 2007 at 1:09:34 PM
I disagree. A lot of libertarians do not even trac... by gg on Thursday, Jun 7, 2007 at 3:59:02 PM
If they touted Locke, they'd have to acknowled... by Jimmy Montague on Thursday, Jun 7, 2007 at 6:40:53 PM
I'm not sure I was clear enough on this in my ... by gg on Thursday, Jun 7, 2007 at 4:53:02 PM
You've never read Locke's Proviso or, if y... by Jimmy Montague on Friday, Jun 8, 2007 at 5:53:23 AM
The proviso applied to owning a piece of nature, s... by gg on Friday, Jun 8, 2007 at 5:00:12 PM
What do you suppose "private property" w... by Jimmy Montague on Saturday, Jun 9, 2007 at 11:29:35 PM
I mentioned it in my first and last paragraphs. In... by gg on Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 2:29:20 AM
With all the political jargon of theories aside. I... by pratliff94 on Thursday, Jun 7, 2007 at 1:44:16 PM
Prairie Populism is the Common Denominator, not Li... by ear on Thursday, Jun 7, 2007 at 2:09:46 PM
1. Ron Paul said he'll sign any bill that come... by gg on Thursday, Jun 7, 2007 at 4:26:52 PM
Friedman talks about antitrust laws here: http://w... by gg on Thursday, Jun 7, 2007 at 4:39:03 PM
to gg for providing incredibly intelligent respons... by theoretical on Thursday, Jun 7, 2007 at 8:25:54 PM