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The Fundamental Problem With Libertarianism:

Source: Giles Bowkett

Stashed in: Libertarian, Awesome, Believe, Best Videos, Chess, politics

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Giles writes:

Libertarian ideas are revolutionary. I've been told that Trotsky once said "Every revolutionary should study chess." Few Libertarians would consider Trotsky's opinion on anything, but Trotsky overthrew a powerful government, so I figure his opinions on revolution are informed opinions.

The best book on chess that Libertarians should read is The Wrecking Crew by Thomas Frank, which left me certain after many years that I was absolutely no Libertarian, and more than that, embarrassed to have ever been one. The book doesn't address Libertarianism directly, and in fact doesn't even do it the courtesy of taking it seriously at all. It's a book about how American conservatives have followed a deliberate strategy of destroying, undermining, and sabotaging the Federal government.

They've done so with the support of Libertarian think tanks all over Washington. Republican Presidents and legislators use Libertarian arguments to advance policy decisions which benefit business, then conveniently forget those same arguments when it comes to issues of government debt or unnecessary military spending. They even conveniently forget the arguments when advancing business interests in ways which contradict every last iota of Libertarian political theory.

The end, of course, is policy decisions which benefit business. If you think it through, this should be enough to destroy Libertarianism for you. That one domino can crash the whole set.

And then he invokes the PCs as dominoes video above.

Which I love.

Which is why some of the most corrupt folks go into government. Consider , $1 trillion in stimulus goes out the window and the largest corporation on earth has what -- $100 billion in the bank. If you take control of a government you own more resources than 1000 corporations could ever dream of.

Or perhaps their absolute power corrupts them.

Power is money, which is why people into money are attracted to power.

Public Choice Theory pushed me toward, not away from, libertarian positions. I use the little "l" purposefully. I'm a lot more libertarian than the median American, but a lot less than the median Libertarian. At any rate, I thought these were pretty good at capturing my views.

Every libertarian says they are "little l". I have never met one who admitted to the "big L". :) Because the Big L is "we are marginalized losers who can't even get Republicans to vote for us!"... and who would admit to that if the alternative were "we are excellent winners who you just can't understand cause we are too smart"?

ps Your boys need to learn to write, I gave up after a few paragraphs cause SO BORING!

yay cynicism

Plus you gotta love those PC dominoes.

The biggest problem with libertarianism is that it assumes people are rational. And they're not.

So could a libertarian-rationalism hybrid philosophy be developed?

ideally that would be America

It's the same lame argument that the free market has failed, when we've not ha a free market for quite some time. Most rational people are libertarians (socially liberal, fiscally conservative). The fact that this country has been corrupted for as long as it has been does not make the libertarian ideals bad. Instead it's a movie but accurate assessment of how awful the republicat duopoly has been for America.

Darn autocorrect.... Had a free market, and morbid, not movie :)

I love that autocorrect replaces "morbid" with "movie",

You are correct that we've never really run the experiment because the Republican Party stole the libertarian rhetoric without actually implementing it.

> The biggest problem with libertarianism is that it assumes people are rational. And they're not.


Firstly, people are *largely* rational. We had that whole enlightenment thing a couple of centuries ago. Hasn't been overturned, to my knowledge.

True, there are examples of ways that people fail to correctly assess risks (, if you're interested in that sort of thing)

But to a bigger point: don't all social and economic theories assume people are, at least, mostly rational? How could you possibly train on any model that assumes otherwise?

By building a model that has unpredictability as its foundation?

Because life is like an hourglass...

Life is like an Hourglass

The biggest problem with Libertarianism is that everyone agrees that limiting Libertarian policies to certain areas is best, and everyone disagrees on which areas.

Chris, that's profound.

Everyone wants less government but no one wants their favorite part of government to go away.

Interesting on the the personalities of self-identified Libertarians:

I was going to break out Haidt's book and post a quote but that WSJ piece does the job just fine. :)

Haidt did offer one other very interesting insight from his research:

Across the board, libertarians were the most rational; their beliefs made the most sense vs ideas born from partisan loyalty, cognitive bias or desire for consistency.

The big problem for libertarians, though, is inherent in their beliefs -- they value individuality and liberty over all else. So organizing them into an effective group is impossible. And, cynical as it may sound, that's what getting elected is all about...

That's fascinating: The core of their beliefs makes them ineffective at organizing.

The core of their beliefs makes them ineffective at organizing... for taking political power in zero-sum power-struggles under some named banner.

They're reasonably effective at organizing in other fields, whether they label themselves 'libertarian' or just go about their own business, living in an 'operationally libertarian' manner: granting others the freedoms they'd like, being helpful in their communities without resorting to paternalism, and ignoring politics as much as possible.

Good point. Thanks or the clarification.

Oh were you able to see the article? I was not, and will never link to a WSJ article for that reason. Maybe if Libertarians want their ideas to be promulgated to voters, they wouldn't put them behind a paywall...?

Also I think they're pretty good at taking power, based on their getting rid of a lot of older members of Congress!

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