My thoughts on libertarianism...
...the philosophy, not the political party. Based on my understanding.
My first exposure to libertarian (L) thought was in high school: one cranky, pimply-faced nerd tilting at windmills. Frankly, most of our graduating class of 1979 had grown up around alot of well-funded government programs, perhaps even used a few ourselves, and found them to be very helpful and highly effective. So blaming government for the ills of society was not a message that played well back then.
Then, only two years later, I read the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. My roommate dropped alot of acid and I didn't -- but we enjoyed talking about stuff long into the night. He seemed fascinated by the way my mind worked and I was curious as hell about what LSD was doing for him.
I stuck with mushrooms and we fried with friends together a few times, times I will always remember as very important and very spiritual parts of my life. If Moses can eat desert cactus, hear a talking bush set ablaze and scrawl down a "greatest hits" version of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, I can certainly claim my experiences of extreme well-being, a complete absence of fear and a sense of universal wholeness as spiritual, too.
I was stimulated and moved by Ayn Rand's thinking purely for the exercise of what Einstein often called, "thought experiments." Whether the mushrooms got in the way, or not, I found objectivism and libertarianism as two sides of the same idealistic coin. Neither will work as forms of government for the same reason that fascism can not work -- human beings are social creatures who require a certain amount of "quiet time" for themselves. Human beings are not solitary creatures who require a certain amount of "social" time.
Numerous experiments by psychologists have proven beyond the shadow of ANY doubt that most human beings will inflict tremendous suffering on their fellows with very little justification from a perceived figure of authority. Place more than a dozen or so persons in a "libertarian kibbutz" and, quite predictably, conflicts resulting in schisms will ensue. Libertarians would prefer to let the conflicted parties resolve their differences by whatever means seem appropriate. Human beings, however, will escalate circumstances to an irrational degree and, as has already been proven, cause great assymmetric harm to themselves and those around them.
I've also noticed that the most forceful proponents of libertarian thought are individuals who have only known government and government policies as executed by neo-conservative, proto-fascist cabals. The entire push by neo conservatives since 1980 has been the destruction of government because of the notion that the larger the government, the more oppressive its influence in the affairs of individuals will be. We did not feel this way as kids when we were reaping the benefits of "socialism," I can assure you. But these youngsters who drone on and on about "libertarianism" have only known government as it operates under assault by those who would defund it so as to destroy it.
Why would anyone want to destroy what is working for the users of the government's services? Refer to the psychological experiments on the infliction of pain, person to person. Place great physicial and social distance between the actor and the agent and, as I have noticed, the amount of misery the actor becomes willing to inflict escalates to an extreme degree.
And the reasons why libertarianism won't work at the social level are analogous to why governments develop bureaucratic structures that quickly change their mission to serve their own best interests: people want a sense of safety and security not normally present in the natural world.
People come together into villages, towns, cities, metropolises and societies because they do not want to stand alone when life deals out the worst that it can deal out to any one individual. The only way that it is possible to protect the individual from the natural world and thereby uphold the social compact governments make with all of their citizens, is to mitigate, or spread out, the risks associated with living a normal human life in the natural world.
Is it fair for some people to receive more than they contribute from their society? Strictly speaking, no. But it is patently unfair and wasteful to allow human beings to compete with one another on the playing fields provided by the natural world. And this competition is far more unfair to far more people than the number of individuals who end up either defrauding the government of its services, or by being simply too ill or ill-equipped for dealing with a normal human life.
In terms of living in peace among one's fellows, this will not take place as long as we have a minority class of individuals who have been allowed to structure, and then dominate to the point of oppression, the affairs of the majority within the society. These individuals are fond of referring to this phenomenon as, "survival of the fittest," or, "natural law," but I don't think anyone with a lick of sense is willing to argue that our current President comes from a "majority class" family, nor that he is a genetically superior specimen from any perspective. Our president is a member of the "lucky sperm club," and, truth be told, it has been his advantaged lifestyle that has turned him into an unfeeling, narcissistic and malignant monster.
Obviously I am more of a socialist than anything else I can identify with, but that does not mean that I believe in an unlimited government and a bureaucracy that robs the people of the things it was created to provide for them. Hence, healthcare bureaucracies conspire to make people sick so that constituents continue to exist; criminal justice bureaucracies actually conspire to create criminals; welfare bureaucracies conspire to create clients who then depend on the services of the welfare bureaucracy. This is a real problem, but it is not a problem that is resolved by eliminating government services.
Clearly, the longest-running bureaucratic organization on Earth has been the Catholic Church. Personally, I'm not interested in replicating their "success," but I would be interested in correcting whatever structural mistakes generated the ironic pathologies I mentioned earlier.
The problems we are experiencing on planet Earth RIGHT NOW are caused by the undue influence of genetically, psychologically and/or emotionally inferior individuals to be given the reigns of too much political, economic and social power and authority. But when I say, "inferior," I'm really meaning, "unfit for its applied purpose." It is entirely possible that NO human being is capable of experiencing the amount of power and authority that being involved in an important bureaucratic agency affords: the experience literally eats their brains or disrupts their nervous system.
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