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Fight for your freedom to work in a sweatshop - VOTE LIBERTARIAN!

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Libertarianism was the darling ideology of the nineties -- a decade when bread-and-butter progressivism was considered oh-so-passe.  Nothing beats it if you want to pose as a rebel without ruffling any feathers within the corporate world order.

The attraction libertarianism has for a good many liberals either indicates their ignorance or is very revealing about their true politics.  But it isn't sufficient to denounce libertarianism on the grounds that, "I'm a liberal/progressive/leftist, so I'm for government."  Left/right isn't pro/anti-government, and the libertarian promise to get the government out of your life is a lie.

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Under libertarianism, when you sign a work contract that does not protect you in any way because you need to put food on the table, get injured on a job with no safety rules, get fired with no recourse, get evicted with no advance notice, and try to sneak your family onto someone's property to get a night's sleep, you'll find out in a hurry how the government "stays out of your life" -- just as soon as the cops get there.

What a libertarian government stays out of is protecting people against anything short of outright bodily assault.  It is property that libertarianism is really designed to protect, and to that end, a libertarian government is just as mean as it is lean -- small in size, but as ruthless and violent as any other government, with fewer restraints.

For most people, libertarian "economic freedom" simply means wage slavery.

Of course -- people will point out -- this stuff is already true under capitalism. Quite so, with some qualifications.  It's strange that some people think this is an argument in libertarianism's favor.

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Libertarianism takes capitalism in all its inequality and oppressiveness and makes it harsher and more absolute. It attacks every restraint imposed on capitalism by workers, consumers, environmentalists, political parties, and so forth, in the name of an absolutist version of property rights and contractual obligations that, although stated in terms that sound equal and fair, is actually ultra-favorable to the rich -- those who already have property and are already in a good contractual bargaining position.

I mean, think about it...suppose you were living in a medieval village with standards of hygiene that were, well, medieval. To avoid the filthy streets, would you prefer to live inside the outhouse? Maybe you would, if you'd lived in filth for so long you thought sh*t was good for you.

Who knows...people are strange. If you can believe sh*t is good for you, you might even believe capitalism's good for you.

The rest of us can hope for indoor plumbing. Or socialism -- an almost forgotten concept no government ever tried to implement. (The name socialism, of course, used to be very popular in some parts of the world.)  Or, if that's too much for you, stitch up the social safety net, and keep your needles out -- because the capitalists are going to keep ripping it open every chance they get.

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Michael Lubin served on the first democratically elected governing board in the history of KPFA, the nation's oldest listener-sponsored radio station. There, he was a founding member of the pro-democracy listeners' (more...)
 

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