Connor Kilpatrick: It’s Hip! It’s Cool! It’s Libertarianism!

By Connor Kilpatrick, the managing editor of Jacobin magazine. Cross posted with The eXiled

Calling yourself a libertarian today is a lot like wearing a mullet back in the nineteen eighties. It sends a clear signal: business up front, party in the back.

You know, those guys who call themselves “socially liberal but fiscally conservative”? Yeah. It’s for them.

Today, the ruling class knows that they’ve lost the culture wars. And unlike with our parents, they can’t count on weeping eagles and the stars ‘n bars to get us to fall in line. So libertarianism is their last ditch effort to ensure a succession to the throne.

Republicans freak you out but think the Democrats are wimps? You must be a libertarian! Want to sound smart and thoughtful in front of your boss without alienating your “socially liberal” buds? Just say the L-word, pass the coke and everyone’s happy!

Just look at how they play it up as the “cool” alternative to traditional conservatism. It’s pathetic. George Will wore the bowtie. But Reason magazine’s Nick Gillespie wears an ironic D.A.R.E. t-shirt. And don’t forget the rest of his all-black wardrobe, complete with leather jacket. What a totally with-it badass.


With such a bleak economic forecast for the Millennials, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that our elites want to make “libertarianism” shorthand for “political disaffection.” Now there’s a demographic with some growth potential. And it’s inspired a lot of poorly-sourced, speculative babble about how “the kids have all gone Galt,” almost always through the personal anecdotes of young white men.

A couple of months ago, after Harvard released a poll on the political views of Millennials, libertarians took to the internet to tell the world how the youth of America was little more than a giant anarcho-capitalist sleeper cell–ready to overthrow the state and privatize the air supply at a moment’s notice. So I took a look at the poll numbers. And you know what? It’s utter horseshit.

Right off the bat, we’re told that 79% of Millennials don’t consider themselves politically-engaged at all so, uh, keep that in mind.

Much is made of the fact that less than half of the survey respondents thought the government should provide free health care to those who can’t afford it. What they don’t mention is that that number (44 percent) is twice the percentage who say they stand against (22 percent) such “hand outs.” Nearly a third didn’t think one way or the other.

Then we hear that the poll proves kids don’t care about climate change. But they don’t mention that slightly more Millennials wanted the government to do more on that front than they’re doing now–even if it hurt economic growth. Nearly half, you guessed it, “neither agree nor disagree.” (Come on kids, Rock the Vote!)

More Millennials identify as liberals than conservatives. Hardly any of them (10 percent) support the libertarian-embraced Tea Party. About three-quarters say they despise congressional Republicans.

Nearly two-thirds voted for Obama in 2008. Slightly over half approve of him now. Nearly three-quarters of Millennials hate congressional Republicans. 55% trust in the U.S. military, one of the largest state-socialist programs in the entire world, also responsible for, you know, those wars that libertarians supposedly hate.

Over a quarter put their faith in the federal government all or most of the time, and 55% “some of the time.” Only 17% answered “never.” And despite all their supposed Ron Paul love, they trust the “globalist” United Nations even more than they do the feds.

A little nibble here with only 36% approving of Obama’s handling of the budget deficit, but then again, that’s actually better than his rating on the deficit with Americans of all ages. Plus, worrying about the budget deficit is how dumb people have tried to sound smart since the days of FDR. And most people are dumb.

And when we finally get down to a hypothetical libertarian match-up between Obama and Ron Paul—41 percent pick Obama and only 27 percent pick Paul.

Oh, but the kiddies are cool with gay marriage and tired of bombing brown people overseas? No shit. That just makes them normal people living in the 21st century. I’m for single-payer health care and can’t stand Barney Frank. Does that mean I sip the Kool-Aid at the Lyndon LaRouche compound?

None of this should be too surprising. For almost two decades, roughly two-thirds of the American public have supported what we’d call a moderate European welfare state—putting the average U.S. citizen significantly to the left of the Democratic party, a center/center-right organization saddled, much to their dismay, with a perpetually-disappointed center-left constituency.

But hey, our ruling class would shit a brick if any of that wealth redistribution stuff happened over here. Which is why “this is a center-right nation” has been a favorite Fox News talking point for over ten years. It’s only now—after Occupy Wall Street forced their hand—that the media is finally willing to admit that it might be bullshit.

But libertarianism? Our ruling class is totally fine with that. Smoke your reefer and sodomize whomever you please, just keep your mouth shut and hand over your Social Security account.


Never trust a hippietarian

I get the appeal. The state’s been sticking it to working folks for decades. It seems almost unimaginable that Big Government could ever be run by us and not the One Percent.

But child labor laws, the Civil Rights act, federal income tax, minimum wage laws, Social Security, Medicare, food safety—libertarians have accused all of them as infringements upon the free market that would lead to economic ruin. And over and over again, they’ve been proven wrong. Life goes on—a little less gruesomely—and society prospers.

“There is no such thing as a free-market,” economist Ha-Joon Chang has said repeatedly. “A market looks free only because we so unconditionally accept its underlying restrictions that we fail to see them.”

In other words, markets are social institutions, just as much under the thumb of politics and government as everything else. Which means they’re subject to democratic pressures, as they should be.

And what you “earn” from said markets? Chang: “All our wages are, at root, politically determined.” Despite what Ron Paul’s trolls might have you believe, gold Krugerrands don’t spray out your asshole every time you type up a spreadsheet or pour a Grande mochachino for your next customer.

Capitalism has always been a product of Big Government. Ever since the railroads of the nineteenth century, to Silicon Valley, Big Pharma and the banks, the Nanny State has been there all along, passing subsidies and tax breaks, and eating the costs the private sector doesn’t want.

So whenever a libertarian says that capitalism is at odds with the state, laugh at him. It’s like saying that the NFL is “at war” with football fields. To be a libertarian is to say that God or the universe marked up that field, squirted out the pigskins from the bowels of the earth and handed down the playbooks from Mt. Sinai.


When a Red like me wants to argue for something like universal health care or free college tuition, we can point to dozens of wealthy democratic societies doing just that. The Stalinist left is nothing more than a faint memory. But where are the libertarian Utopias?

General Pinochet’s Chile was a longtime favorite. But seeing as how it relied on a fascist coup—with a big assist from Nixon and Kissinger—Chile’s lost a bit of that Cold War luster. So these days, for the slightly more with-it libertarian, we get Singapore as the model of choice.

Hey, isn’t that where the Facebook guy lives these days? That’s pretty “hip”!

Ah, Singapore: a city-state near the very top in the world when it comes to “number of police” and “execution rate” per capita. It’s a charming little one-party state where soft-core pornography is outlawed, labor rights are almost nonexistent and gay sex is banned. Expect a caning if you break a window. And death for a baggie of cocaine.

But hey: no capital gains tax! (Freedom!)

Singapore: Libertarian Paradise

It’s not like any of this will make it through the glassy eyes of the true-believers. Ludwig von Mises, another libertarian pin-up boy, wrote in 1927 that, “Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization.”

Lately, Ron Paul’s economic advisor has been claiming that Communist Party-ruled China has a freer market than the U.S.’s.


So let’s talk a little about this freedom they’re always going on about. Or, to paraphrase Lenin, the libertarian’s ultimate nemesis: freedom for who to do what?

Most American adults spend about half their waking hours at a job. And during that time, libertarians do not give a flying fuck about your liberty. Instead, they condone the most brutal of tyrannies all in the name of a private employer’s freedom.

Racial discrimination, verbal abuse, random drug testing, body-searches, sexual harassment, illegal termination, email monitoring, union busting, even withholding piss-breaks–ask any libertarian how they feel about workplace unfreedom and they’ll tell you: “Hey man, if you don’t like it, you have the freedom to get another job.” If folks are hiring. But with four-and-a-half applicants for every job, they’re probably not.

Here’s another thing libertarians always forget to mention: a free-market capitalist society has never and by definition can never lead to full-employment. It has to be made to by—you guessed it—the Nanny State. Free market capitalism actually requires a huge mass of the unemployed—it’s not just a side effect.

And make no mistake: corporate America loves a high unemployment rate.

When most everyone has a job, workers are less likely to take shit. They do nutty things like join unions, demand better wages and refuse to work off-the-clock. They start to stand up to real power: not to the EPA, and not the King of England, but to their bosses.

But with a real unemployment rate close to 20 percent, that ain’t happening. Well, fuck. Better sign up for that Big Government welfare state they’re always whining about. Hey, don’t worry. You could always sell a little crack and turn a few tricks. Libertarians totally support that.

After all, that’s your freedom, dude!


Libertarianism isn’t some cutting-edge political philosophy that somehow transcends the traditional “left to right” spectrum. It’s a radical, hard-right economic doctrine promoted by wealthy people who always end up backing Republican candidates, no matter how often they talk about civil liberties, ending the wars and legalizing pot. Funny how that works.

It’s the “third way” for a society in which turning against capitalism or even taking your foot off the pedal is not an option. Thanks to our shitty constitution and the most violent labor history in the West, we never even got a social-democratic party like the rest of the developed world.

So what do we get? The libertarian line: “No, no: the problem isn’t that we’re too capitalist. It’s that we’re not capitalist enough!”


At a time in which our society has never been more interdependent in every possible way, libertarians think they’re John fucking Wayne looking out over his ranch with an Apache scalp in his belt, or John fucking Galt doing…whatever it is he does. (Collect vintage desk toys from the Sharper Image?)

Their whole ideology is like a big game of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s all make-believe, except for the chain-mail–they brought that from home. Elves, dwarves and fair maidens for capital. Even with the supposedly “good ones”—anti-war libertarians—we’re still talking about people who think Medicare’s going to lead to Stalinism.

So my advice is to call them out.

Ask them what their beef really is with the welfare state. First, they’ll talk about the deficit and say we just can’t afford entitlement programs. Well, that’s obviously a joke, so move on. Then they’ll say that it gives the government tyrannical power. Okay. Let me know when the Danes open a Guantánamo Bay in Greenland.

Here’s the real reason libertarians hate the idea. The welfare state is a check against servility towards the rich. A strong welfare state would give us the power to say Fuck You to our bosses—this is the power to say “I’m gonna work odd jobs for twenty hours a week while I work on my driftwood sculptures and play keyboards in my a chillwave band. And I’ll still be able to go to the doctor and make rent.”

Sounds like freedom to me.

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  1. UnlearningEcon

    Worth noting that Singapore also has a history of state subsidies and the government owns, I think, 80% of the land. The er are probably other institutions and laws I’ve forgotten/don’t know about.

    1. Marc

      I agree with Cody. Why not focus on areas of agreement among people who are looking for alternatives to the two established parties? As someone who spent a lot of time and resources working against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I resent being told that I am an adherent of a “hard-right economic doctrine promoted by wealthy people who always end up backing Republican candidates.”

      1. jimmyj

        ” Why not focus on areas of agreement among people who are looking for alternatives to the two established parties?”

        Maybe cuz you guys are actually arch-Republicans with a tolerance for dope and hookers. And to be quite honest I don’t really have a problem with that. Kudos, in fact. And the anti-war stance, well, like any good hippy, I like that too! But when one scratches the surface, what becomes evident is enough to make one reach for the garlic and wooden stakes. I won’t go off on my standard screed because the author of this post has done an excellent job, but I will say that the essance of Libertarianism is even more frightening than the obvious devil-take-the-hindmost mindset of the average practitioner. It’s the stuff that slavery is made from. When you guys scream “Freedom Uber Alles” you speak…….ah, forget it! Why be redundant. Mr. Kilpatrick nails it.

        1. Fifi

          ” but I will say that the essence of Libertarianism is even more frightening than the obvious devil-take-the-hindmost mindset of the average practitioner. It’s the stuff that slavery is made from. ”

          I will always give more respect to a conservative than a libertarian in the same I have more respect for Richard Nixon than for Georges Walker Bush.

          See, compared to GWB, Nixon cared enough about the truth to know he was lying. GWB just made stuff up.

          Same. At least, conservatives care about society. The conservatives care about society for the wrong reason, with the wrong ideas seeking the wrong outcomes.

          But at least, they know there is such a thing as “society”.

          You can’t even say that of libertarians.

        2. rotter

          “with a taste for dope and hookers” you must mean…unless you are using “tolerance” as a medical term.

    2. rotter

      That just goes to show you how dishonest “libertarians” are..they would never point that out when holding up singapore as a freemarket fundamentalism success story.

    3. liberal

      Worth noting that Singapore also has a history of state subsidies and the government owns, I think, 80% of the land.

      The most potent argument against libertarianism as commonly construed is alluded to here in this sentence: the Georgist argument.

  2. Cody Willard

    Shameful, off-topic article that frames the issues in a way only a 1%er could love. I mean, here we have a “red” trying to pick a fight with “libertarians”. Meanwhile, the Republican/Democrat Corporatist Regime shifts trillions of dollars of wealth upward via targeted tax tricks. If there ever were an actual political battle between libertarians and socialists, at least it would resemble something like “freedom” vs “society”. This frankly stupid article is just another McGuffin to keep you distracted. Why don’t those who believe in liberal ideology and those who believe in libertarianism agree to fight the Republican/Democrat Corporatist Regime before turning in on each other. Sigh.

    1. Dan Kervick

      Because libertarians won’t fight the corporatist regime. They want to give corporations the freedom to go right on doing what corporations do. They just don’t get that the power of corporations is not some sort of unnatural pathology that results from the interference of “the state”

      Also, libertarians are hostile to democracy, since democracy is a system of government and mutual obligation that interferes with their ideal of personal liberty. I find little basis for cooperation with people who are hostile to my most fundamental political values.

        1. liberal

          Yeah, I always like to post that link.

          Too bad too many people don’t realize that it’s the real Achilles heel of so-called “libertarianism.”

        2. CAptain Awesome

          Democracy IS a threat to liberty, as it can only be as just as the Majority of the people. As unlikely as this scenario is, 51% of the people could potentially vote the other 49% into slavery, but that would certainly not be just, no matter how Democratic it is. There are still real-world scenarios, like the all these states voting to ban gay marriage after lawmkers already passed the law. That’s the majority of the voters imposing their will on a minority. Look into “Tyranny of the Majority.” It’s an interesting concept.

          1. F. Beard

            Why would 51% of the people want to enslave the 49% except perhaps for revenge that the 49% had enslaved them?

            Democracy is not a threat to a just society. To be afraid of democracy is to concede the society is not just. That is why the Republicans wish to disenfranchise the poor, btw.

          2. Me

            I love this whole “tyranny of the majority” stuff. We hear how the majority can enslave the minority. So what is the alternative? The individual right? Problem though, we live in a highly inequitable society. So what can we expect when everything is left up to the individual and we have mass inequality? A tyranny of the moneyed minority of course, which is what we see when capitalist countries privatize and get rid of government the world over. They don’t have that pesky democracy getting in the way. They have something even better, rule by the small minority! Sign me up.

            Yes, I guess 51% voting the other 49% into slavery is horrible. You have a better idea. 1% voting 99% into chattel slavery. Since no well functioning economy operates along libertarian lines, and no functioning economy ever will, we must turn to countries that do. In the economic realm, what would come close. Somalia? Haiti? What libertarian paradise would you point to as a model to emulate?

      1. Greg Taylor

        Limited liability corporations exist only because governments permit them. Many libertarians don’t think government should have this power and don’t think limited liability corporations should exist. Most of these don’t believe governments should recognize corporate personhood either.

        I’ll agree with Cody’s assessment of this piece.

          1. y

            Rothbrard argues that limited liability would still exist in his ideal nightmarish dystopian sick fantasy world.

          2. y

            Rothbard argues that limited liability would still exist in his ideal nightmarish dystopian sick fantasy world.

      2. Dude From Arkansas

        Since the above article makes many gross mischaracterizations, I guess I might as well also come out swinging against your professed support of democracy. So you believe that 50.1% should be able to tell the rest of the people what they can and can’t do? After all, that’s what a pure democracy would give us.

        I’d bet that you actually don’t believe this anymore than most self-professed libertarians believe that Singapore or Chile is some sort of political paradise, or that powerful private interests should run our lives just because, well, heck, anything is better than the state.

    2. Aquifer

      Shucks – maybe it’s to point out that adopting Libertarianism is just another form of promoting corporatism which is the predatory force driving the Rep/Dem predations ….. The idea that Lefties and Libers were natural allies always struck me as rather strange ….

    3. Connor Kilpatrick

      Wait, I don’t get it: socialists should make common-cause with free-market fundamentalists? That’s some cutting-edge, post-partisan thinking right there, Cody! I truly am “shamed.”

      1. Ray Duray

        LOL! Thanks for the sarcasm. It’s in short supply when it comes to the sacred cow-like-thinking-masses in America.

        Author Garrison Keillor would love this article Conner. After all, he said we need to “kick those sacred cows and make ’em moo!”

        You’ve done so. Admirably.

        So much so I’ve furthered your distribution just a bit:

        Thanks again for a delightful article!

    4. Almost Ghetto

      I agree with you. This is a shameful article. It comes off as an angry partisan rant. The author seems to be rabiddly defending the left/right paradigm. Singapore is Libertarian? Come on! Singapore allows very few personal liberties. One thing Libertarians view as an important role of government is to punish fraud, something that neighther left or right seems to be concerned with. Whatever form of government we choose, the same corruption from monied interests is going to take root until we start caring about enforcing the rule of law, especially at the top.

      1. rotter

        No, if you read it, he is strictly attacking “the right paradigm” and dfending the left. Only fake “centrists” would have a problem understanding that.

    5. rotter

      No he nails the whole libertarian fraud, easily in a casual sort of way. There are no “libertrians”…There are only states that attempt to serve the common good of all, or serve only the rich. As the “codename cain” series pointed out neatly, there will never be a stateless society.Even if it would be possilbe to completely privatize a massive modern state, which is the only thing libertarians wish to do, then the private structures would replace democratic, public tructures of govt..that is are either a “garden variety liberal”, or your are a neoliberal extremist and a freemarket fundamentalist…there are no “libertarians”…it is a marketing strategy.

      1. Goin' South

        Like the author, you miss the real alternative:

        No State AND no private ownership of the means of production.

        Leninist Kilpatrick wants us to believe that Capitalism is the creature of the State. Change the nature of the State (put Leninist Kilpatrick and his pals in charge), and you can change the economic system.

        Soviet Union, here we come!

        The truth is that the State is the creature of Capitalism, and, more generally, of hierarchy. For the sake of both freedom and equality, both Capitalism and the State must go.

        Kilpatrick persists in calling these Randians “libertarians,” when he knows that the proper term for them is “propertarians.” They care only for private property rights; liberty doesn’t matter to them, as Kilpatrick demonstrates. The real libertarians are the libertarian communists, i.e. anarchists, who oppose Capitalism as much as the State.

        That said, any ally in dismantling the State, even the Randians, is an ally for the time being.

        Remembering how the Bolsheviks treated the anarchists of Kronstadt and the Black Army of the Ukraine, and what Stalin did to the CNT in Spain, it’s clear that those who love both liberty and equality have as little reason to trust Leninists like Kilpatrick as the fascists.

        1. Me

          “That said, any ally in dismantling the State, even the Randians, is an ally for the time being.”

          You can’t be serious with this silly nonsense. I say this as someone close ideologically to classical anarchism myself. We live in a highly unequal society. If you get rid of the state NOW, when society is so unequal, you set the grounds for tyranny. If you are a damn anarchist, you should be so because you care about working people primarily. Your ideology should be a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. If you care about people, especially the poor and working people, there is no way you would be in favor of getting rid of the state.

          You brought up the CNT in Spain. How long did it take to create the anarchist movement in Spain. GENERATIONS. They created institutionsm a culture, social movements, to take the place of the traditional state institutions. Have people like yourself done that? No. No, you want to just get rid of the state, creating a power vacuum. When that happens, and we know this without exception in human history, what fills that vacuum is the most powerful institutions in society. Are they anarchist institutions? No, of course not. They’re business groups, private military contractors, the army.

          Grow the hell up. Work to organize people, educate them, create alternative structures and policies. If you get to the point where those institutions can take the place of the modern state, you can talk as you do here. If we had it your way, most of the country would fall into poverty and despair. Some anarchist you are, just feed the workers to the hungry capitalists. Anarchists care about private and government power. You would do nothing about private power, cause nothing HAS been done about concentrated private power. Modern Haiti here we come.

    6. YankeeFrank

      This article, and common sense, put the lie to your “freedom versus society” framing. Freedom for who, to do what? Please answer that question, and give us at least a minimal sense of what you mean by freedom before you start such silly framings. Libertarians, from all I’ve seen of them (and its almost more than I can stomach frankly), are either liars trying to promote a corporate fascists state, or are blind to the obvious fact that without a powerful counterbalance to corporate power “freedom” is done for, for anyone but the owners of the multinationals. You claim to want to fight “fraud” but libertarians define fraud in a very selective and meaningless way in many instances. Libertarianism is for those who like jingoistic politics, and who love to throw around words like “freedom” and “liberty” without ever defining their terms. As such, its a meaningless front for whatever REAL agenda the promoters are pushing. And all too commonly, its a front for plutocrats to undermine what’s left of the regulatory state so they can own all of the nation’s assets, and charge the rest of us rent for breathing “their” air. The answer to crappy government is not to throw us all to the sharks, its to FIX GOVERNMENT.

      1. Fifi

        Freedom for who, to do what?

        “Using which property and material means ?”, I would add.

        The funny thing is the only way any libertarian idea could have any sort of applicability would be some sort of a SciFi post-scarcity, omnipotent utopia, where the notion of property, the most central and defining question of libertarianism, would be an utterly irrelevant concept.

        1. different clue

          Perhaps the Lenin question could be rephrased even more starkly: Freedom for who to do what, to whom?

    7. bob

      Is there an internet troll “mad libs” that you write from?

      Insert adjective here…

      Shameful…according to who? You?

      Off topic… According to who? You? It seems as if it’s titled very well with respect to the content. What is off topic?

      Get your own fucking blog. Oh wait…you have one…

      “facebook is still a buy” July 29.

  3. F. Beard

    Smoke your reefer and sodomize whomever you please, just keep your mouth shut and hand over your Social Security account.

    Well, not the reefer. I suppose the pot-heads are not as militant and rich as the sodomites are.

    I imagine the sodomites are more likely to vote Republican to protect their wealth than to vote Democrat to protect their right to sodomy since no one gives a hoot what consenting adults do to each other anyway.

    Thanks for that Mises quote! I deduced from his gold standard advocacy that he was a fascist. It’s nice to see hard confirmation of that fact.

      1. F. Beard

        Being forced to buy or borrow someone’s favorite scarce metal before government money can be created is fascist privilege for private interests. The ONLY ethical money form for government money is inexpensive fiat.

        Mises was thus a fascist for advocating a gold standard as was Ayn Rand as is Alan Greenspan (unless he has repented since 1966) and as is Ron Paul.

        1. Almost Ghetto

          How is this different than banks being allowed access to newly created fiat money before the general public. Fiat creation by a private central bank allows the bubble blowers to profit at the expense of the public.

          1. F. Beard

            A lender of last resort for the banks is fascist too; you are correct. And so is government deposit insurance*. And so is borrowing by monetary sovereigns.

            * Monetary sovereigns such as the US should themselves provide risk-free fiat and transaction services that make no loans and pay no interest. That service should be free up to normal household limits.

    1. gf

      Do you actually beleive that WSJ nonsence?

      They are becoming Debt slaves exactly because of the lack a deficit spending. They are really just a few years behind with their crisis. Will not of be exactly the same, but coming just the same.

    2. spooz

      Canadians have universal health care. Is the libertarian dream the creeping privitization of health care, something Canadians are strongly against. They like their free health care and think our system is horrific.

    1. Eureka Springs

      I rather enjoyed it too. And I cast my first ever vote for a Republican, Ron Paul in the presidential primary this year…. the only monkey wrench available in the primary.

      1. John

        You liked the article, yet you voted for Ron Paul? You make no sense to me. I am voting Ron Paul because of his Libertarian views!

        1. F. Beard

          Ron Paul would cut Food Stamps by 60% according to Webster Tarpley. If true, then RP’s priorities are exactly reversed! It is welfare for the rich and the banks (their pet counterfeiting cartel) that should be ended FIRST!

          1. Darias

            This is a but misleading.

            Food stamps are plus for society. Think Ron would prob limit what you could purchase to milk, veggies, rice beans, bread which would entire people to get off. Which I agree with.

            You give money to students until most are priced out.

            Same for homes..etc

            Than you act surprised?

          2. F. Beard

            Ron Paul is attacking the wrong end of the problem. Cutting welfare for the poor should not even be on the table till welfare for the banks is completely eliminated.

            How can the man be so backward?

          3. Darias

            You are acting as if this is the only action. He wants to end the fed.

            Agree that ending food stamp should not be on the table. But like I said, he el likely entire people to get off. This is what libertarians want.

            All other gov subsidies should be killed tomorrow. They do nothing.y but double screw citizens for the benefit of a few that don’t even appreciate it.

  4. JGordon

    Subscribing to all these -ism ideologies is a really big mistake that just confuses people. A better way to look at the situation is by thinking about how corrupt each party and each individual is. For example:

    1. Democrats are extraordinarily corrupt
    2. Republicans are amazingly corrupt
    3. Now that Libertarians are becoming popular, they have been deemed worthy to be corrupted by the corrupt powers that be too, and so have been.

    The main problem here is that Americans are generally stupid and evil, in a sort of naive and unthinking way. Until that problem is fixed ((oh, and it will be fixed–think of the India blackout going on right now, except along with no power there will also be no food or water–that’s America’s near future)) all this other stuff about politicans and ideologies is a lot of wasted nonesense.

    People would be far better served to just start raising rabbits and getting their solar panel set up running that to be worrying about what corrupt politician or banker is stealing what imaginary computer money digits from whom.

      1. JGordon

        Good thing I’m an atheist then! Soft fur for coats and tasty meat–they really are an amazing animal for backyard farming. They’re almost as easy to take care of as my chickens, and more friendly to boot!

          1. JGordon

            They taste a lot like chicken, but the meat is a bit more dry and thick. Any recipe you can use chicken in, rabbits are pretty much a good substitute. And they’re easier to take care of and breed faster. So all around a superior choice for meat.

      1. JGordon

        But unlike the others, I know exactly how exceptional my life has been thanks to all the looting of the planet we do.

        It literally takes years to replace some of the transformers that burnt out there in India–incidentally the same ones we use here in America. And there is only one global, just-in-time supply of them.

        Pay attention to what’s going on in India; it’s the future.

        1. F. Beard

          Well, there no excuse for the US to have poor infrastructure and high unemployment. I expect the Republicans (if Romney wins) to award fat contracts to their friends to fix it.

          1. JGordon

            No one can fix it no matter who is in power. That is the point. The only we get to choose when we go to the voting booth is who gets to steal from us while the system goes under.

          2. JGordon

            Well, that’s a bit pessimistic now that I look at it again. Actually there are things we can do to improve our lives, but they don’t involve voting or activism, and deluding yourself into believing that Democrats are better than Republicans is only a way to gaurantee that you’ll go down with the ship while they’re floating away on the lifeboats.

            “The problem with people who understand finance is that they don’t understand reality.”

            -Dimitry Orlov

          3. Kyrie Eleison

            And by “fix it” you mean pocket the money and gloss over and/or cover up said failing infrastructure… right?

          4. F. Beard

            And by “fix it” you mean pocket the money and gloss over and/or cover up said failing infrastructure… right?

            I reckon there are a few non-corrupt people left. And if there aren’t then I reckon The End is near anyway. A little hideout in the country won’t protect one from God’s wrath, I reckon.

          5. Capo Regime

            Yes the Democrats are above awarding fat cat contracts to their friends. Yes dems good and meanie republicans–have you been awake since Jan 09? Were you awake from jan 03 to Jan 00? Just curious.

  5. BelgianBrain

    If you have to steal 50% off every working soul to get a 300% debt to GDP ratio… maybe the welfare state is as real as Dungeons and dragons.

      1. rotter

        And that, i suppose, because incomes have cratered…the credit bubble strategy..if we cant by their crappy goods and services, then they dont collect money, unless they can force everyone into debt…whats next?..i predict slavery if we dont overturn this rotten system.

  6. john norse

    Great article. Whenever I meet a libertarian, I notice they ONLY vote for repubs, and the only book they ever finished was ‘Atlas Shrugged.’ I just laugh and walk away.

  7. Shutterbuggery

    Libertarian Credo: I want more money.

    Screw these people and their phony posturing. Scratch one of and you’ll find a greedy bastard willing to sell his own grandmother to the glue factory for a buck.

    1. F. Beard

      No, it’s not just money or even money in many cases. For example it bugs me no end that being caught with pot can ruin a young person’s life when three US Presidents have as much as admitted that they smoked it. In GW Bush’s and Bill Clinton’s cases it’s likely they used cocaine too!

      1. Shutterbuggery

        FBeard… yes, sorry, but it is about them personally getting as much gold and guns as they can get their grubby little hands on and then hoarding it as people die, starve, and the corpses pile up around them. Chaos and Armageddon, thats their personal wet-dream.

        You think its not about the money sometimes? Change the discussion and eliminate hoarding wealth and see what happens.

        Back when I was young and stupid, I was present at the founding of Reason magazine, ‘way back in 68. Met all or most of those assholes at various functions, seminars, parties etc. Read their rag, talked the talk and got high & drunk with ’em for about five years. Yes, we smoked the forbidden weed to and didn’t they just act like it was the most daring thing!

        Selfish greedy violent guns&gold-crazy freaks, friendless, antisocial, unable to hold a reasonable conversation with ordinary people unless it gave them a chance to show how morally superior they were. And what a dumb shit YOU were for not agreeing with them.

        Sorry. I’ve known too many of the hard-core libertarians up close and personal. You know, when they’re not dissembling and doing their best to appear rational and open-minded.

        I’ve never met a bunch of people who could best serve humanity by sticking their heads in a gas oven, blowing out the pilot light and turning it up to 450. .

        1. F. Beard

          I’ve always loathed the “social libertarians.” Not that they shouldn’t be free to do drugs but that and other licentious behavior seemed to be their only motivation. And their license was often at the expense of other people’s liberty!

  8. Louis Proyect

    Nick Gillespie dyes his hair black, looking as garish as Ronald Reagan. Not very hip, IMHO.

  9. FrankB

    Kilpatrick’s welfare state where one can do very little and get very much is a fantasy.

  10. SidFinster

    I find it perversely amusing that the author appears to claim that social conservativism is somehow a hallmark of the 1%.

    Meditate on Harvard, Stanford, hedge funds and GS. Not many social conservatives to be found there. In fact, expressing any public viewpoint other than the liberal one is seen as the height of bad taste,something for the Flyover People, and also giving rise to a risk of lawsuit.

    1. Wells Fargo Must Die

      Seems you have confused the word “conservatism” with social conservatism which is reflexive for many Republicans since that is their primary concern. True the 1% does not give a damn about social conservatism. That is a tool of the 1% — not a belief.

    2. Tim

      You’re confusing 1% with the .00001%. Most really successful non-fraudulent business types (yes they do exist Dave Thomas of Wendy’s is an example) do have conservative values. For whatever reason, that thought process does lend one to be better equiped to be successful in business and investing.

      Not defending one thing over another, I’m just sayin’.

      1. Wells Fargo Must Die

        By “conservative values,” you mean “socially conservative values?” I doubt that “most” do. I am sure that roughly half of them do. In any case, that’s got nothing to do with this article as it made no reference to social conservatism other than it being out of fashion with libertarians.

        I am sure that most have “conservative values” when it refers to low taxes and lack of regulation and fewer worker rights as it leads to larger profits.

        1. Tim

          By “Values” I mena thought processes. Liberal and Conservatives think very differently.

          As such they construct solutions that would work very well if everybody in the world thought just like them.

          Unfortunately half the world doesn’t think like them and they have to compromise on their solutions…so nobody is ever able to be proven 100% correct.

          So I was trying to say that people that think like a conservative tend to have better business success, and being selfish and stepping on those around you is not a prerequest to that, but may help.

          I’m speaking in generalities, and there are exceptions into double digit percentages to everything I’ve said.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Actually, if you consider FDR’s New Deal a liberal construct, the New Deal “worked” for both liberals and conservatives (unless your definition of “working” includes reviving the slaveoacracy of the old south and taking it national). The converse is not true. Your equivalence is false.

  11. frijoles jr

    I think a fair amount of Libertarian support begins and ends with drug legalization, particularly cannabis.

    The risk, however small, of asset forfeiture and a life-crippling felony conviction is hard to overlook.

    Granted, the Green party shares that particular platform, but the Libertarians are more established and more likely to be found on the ballot in most places.

    How else to explain those who vote Green and Libertarian on the same ballot? It’s not like there’s a lot of overlap between the two apart from drug policy.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but if you think libertarianism is contemptible and wish to see it consigned to the shadows, legal weed would take you much of the way there.

    1. F. Beard

      but if you think libertarianism is contemptible and wish to see it consigned to the shadows, legal weed would take you much of the way there. frijoles jr

      Excellent point. Example: Now that homos can legally poke each other in the poop shoot they are abandoning the Democratic Party and going Republican so weed users would likewise abandon the Libertarian Party to lean more Leftward?

      Great point but don’t you know being a Leftist is to want to run other people’s lives? To keep illegal what they themselves did when younger? To be God though they reject God? Even the Russian Commies were against pornography though they were wise enough to allow vodka.

      1. F. Beard

        I’d say we might be able to gently transition to “true” libertarianism but only after reversing the pillage of 100 years or more of banker fascism and by eliminating welfare for the rich FIRST. Then the need for the rest of the welfare state (such as it is) should gradually “wither away”.

        But the drug restrictions for adults should end NOW.

        1. rotter

          yeah, 10 minutes into either romney’s or the amazing hope-o change-o’s 2nd term we’re gonna need them desparately

          1. F. Beard

            Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
            And wine to him whose life is bitter.

            Let him drink and forget his poverty
            And remember his trouble no more.

            Open your mouth for the mute,
            For the rights of all the unfortunate.

            Open your mouth, judge righteously,
            And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
            Proverbs 31:6-9 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

      2. Tim

        I’m slightly suprised by your level of disgust for libertarians, as everybody has something novel and valuable to contribute from their unique perspective. It is the essence of gaining synergy from diversity is it not?

        And people do truly think and control themselves differently. If the liberal mindset got it’s way 100% in society’s rules and structure it wouldn’t be utopia because all of the convservative minded people would not function well in a society run that way and vise versa, so compromise is necessary for optimum function of our society.

        For those very reasons 33% republican 33% democrat and 33% libertarian would be better than what we have today, so let the libertarians have their growth, even if the majority of what they believe isn’t something you agree with. They’ll never get everything they ask for anyways(especially the extreme stuff).

        For the record I have no party affiliation.

        1. rotter

          Wow, 33% liberterian and 33% republican..thats positively parlimentarian of you tim…you shouldnt say your not affiliated, you should say your a parlimentarian…..excuse me, im laughing very hard…oh ho ho! are you trying to pull a fast one on us there, tim?…like heads i win tails you lose?….LOL HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA…

          1. spooz

            About 33% are independent. If the libertarians and socialists could ever come together with an acceptable compromise we might have a chance of ending the duopoly.

      3. Almost Ghetto

        Wow, Yves! I really enjoy your blog, but you really turn your intellectual side off when anyone writes negative things about Libertarians. This pieces is just a grumpy partisan rant. At least you clearly state your bias of welcoming hatred of Libertarians.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The onus is on you and other unhappy libertarians to dispute the information presented in the post. I see perilous little of that in this thread. Instead of a fact based defense, I get “naahh, I don’t LIKE this”. I don’t find that convincing.

          And I’ve discussed libertarianism at length in ECONNED, in the form of Friedmanite “free markets” ideology. It does not stand up to any serious scrutiny.

          1. Almost Ghetto

            That’s just it. There are no facts in this article, just a bunch of opinions and distortions. Libertarians aren’t all pot smoking hippies. They are not all for corporations going hog wild. The focus of most Libertarians is mainly personal liberty. They are against the unrestrained police state and erosion of the protections provided by the bill of rights. They don’t like the pervasive surveilance regime in place that is growing. None of the so called Libertarian examples in the article are accurate. Singapore is not Libertarian. Based on this guys definition of libertarianism, Obama would be the biggest libertarian.

            I get that there is the fear that the evil elites will twist Libertarian ideals to put the corporations in charge, but how is that not happening under the current lefty/righty system we have now? How is the Democrats vs the Republicans any less of a complete trick by the elites? Instead of alienating your libertarian readers, how about having a more productive conversation?

          2. YankeeFrank

            Actually, there are quite salient points in the article. Starting with the question, “freedom for whom, to do what?”. Libertarians claim a lot of good will come from getting rid of the regulatory state, but the facts state otherwise. As corrupt as our government currently is, without it we would be at the mercy of massive conglomerates and oligarchs, who would hire private armies and enslave all of us. Its OBVIOUS to everyone except libertarians that having no government is not just extremely dangerous, but a contradiction in terms: one cannot have a large and complex society without some form of government. By taking away the power of government to regulate (even to regulate its own election rules presumably) our corporate controlled government will be 100% corporate controlled. So, who gets the freedom in your libertarian paradise? Who gets the money? A productive approach would be to reform government and make it work for the people instead of the corporations. Libertarians never talk about that, and they vote republican (yes Ron Paul is a republican) all of the time.

        2. citalopram

          The mistake Libertarians make is wedding civil liberties (good) with corporate fascism (bad).

      4. RogueDave

        I never said I was a Libertarian, and I generally love I own and have read your book, I have a lot of respect for you and your thinking. I most certainly do not hate you, NC, I support Occupy and am greatly in favor of restructing and reorganizing the “system” to remove the Oligarchs and their minions and political lackeys from operating the control levers.

        Why I think the article sucks:
        The first 20 paragraphs or so are Ad Hominem attacks. It then descends into generalizations and points at various abstractions and failures of the corrupted and hijacked corp-state.

        Does the article EVER point out the positive alternative(s)? No. Its an attack article that I find below the quality and thoughtfulness of why I come to

        1. Fifi

          ” The first 20 paragraphs or so are Ad Hominem attacks. It then descends into generalizations and points at various abstractions and failures of the corrupted and hijacked corp-state. ”


          That’s the point. Mockery. Plain and simple. Libertarianism doesn’t deserve anything else. There’s no point debating a religious, non-falsifiable ideology like libertarianism. They are just like Marxists. Whenever it fails, it just it wasn’t tried hard enough. “Communism failed because it wasn’t true Communism. Try harder.” Same s**t with Teatards.

          And at least, Marx was a decent chronicler of capitalism left to its own devices and gone feral, one worth re-reading in today’s world (although I far prefer Veblen). I can’t find any similar redeeming value with any libertarian “thinker”.

          The case is simple: Libertarianism is irredeemable, self-serving crap, through and through. Point your finger and make them look like the asses they are.

          1. Kyrie Eleison

            My Libertarianism bumper sticker:

            “We’ll let you roll if you sell your soul.”

            Has a nice ring to it, and as long as I can flame up then who cares?

            Why does every social issue have to have a bajillion earmarks clinging to it like leeches? Oh yeah – because that’s the only way things get done around here.

          2. Tim

            I agree that extremists tend to be idiots, however, anti-libertarienas seem to presume that anybody that associates themselves with libertarianism must follow the libertarian thought processes to their ultimate extremes which shows them to be false.

            That is false. Our societies rules are nothing but coping mechanisms for human shorcomings that don’t have to be proven correct at the extremes to work in lesser degrees. There are a moderate libertarians that have some pretty realistic frameworks for how they’d like to see our government and society function.

            I still wouldn’t want to see a 100% implementation of libertarian ideas just like I wouldn’t want to see 100% Republican or Democrat implementation of their ideals…

            We should be focusing on taking best of breed ideas from all philosophies to get the best solutions, which will include some libertarian ideas.

          3. Kyrie Eleison

            Sure thing.

            And those who hold the levers of power will do whatever they want anyways, regardless of what “the people” want.

            I can almost hear it now:

            1) “Well, upon careful consideration, I’ve changed my position on that.”

            2) We’re getting around to that issue, we just need more time for “research”.

            3) #2 followed up by #1.

            4) Actually doing that would… [Insert favorite bogeyman here: raise taxes, raise unemployment, raise the dead, crash “the system”, terrorism! ooga booga booga]

            I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

        2. Ruslan Amirkhanov

          Libertarians seem to love trying to accuse their opponents of logical fallacies(almost always forgetting argument ad logicum), and this is no exception. As others have pointed out, ad hominems in regards to libertarians to not detract from anti-libertarian arguments for the simple reason that libertarian claims and arguments are without merit. Many libertarian claims are simply un-falsifiable or un-testable, and those that can be tested(by looking at history or the world around us) have been proven false. Sorry but life was not better in the 1890’s or early 20th century when we had less government regulation(partially because there were fewer spheres to be regulated anyway).

          The best way to characterize libertarian claims is with the word “frivolous” in the legal sense. When a judge says something is “frivolous” it means “without legal merit”, in short, it is not worth considering. Libertarians tend to think that if someone doesn’t engage them in polemics it’s because they can’t. In fact it’s because many of their arguments simply don’t merit consideration at all. But if they prefer to take that as a sign that they “won,” so be it.

          1. rotter

            That was well said. The outraged Libertarians would make the same claims (not fair, not argued, not proven, mean and hurtful etc.,etc.,) even if there were no sarcasm, if every statement were cited, if the tone were completely academic. Ive seen them do it, over and over and over, right here on our sheew. The code name cain series of posts explored ALL of the most relevant libertarian claims, in great detail carried them to thier own logical dead end, and without “ad hominem” attacks and if anything they hated it even worse. If think “libertariansm” is an entry level screed. Its training wheels for nihilistic, apolitcal young, would-be wal street trader types, college sohphmore pot-heads. No matter how many times, and no matter how many ways its argued to them that the “libertarian” position is NOT a political philosophy, or a cultural theory, it is a menu and voter guide of single issue-politics, they whine and call you a cheater..calling them out is almost not worth doing, except that like good hygiene, it needs to be performed regularly.

      5. ebear

        Totally, although I reserve my hatred for those who have the will to harm me AND the means to carry it out. Until they cross that threshold, I think contempt is an adequate response.

      6. jake chase

        Yes, you’re 100% in favor of a strong activist government that does exactly what you want, but you never understand that the activist government you actually get will always do exactly what you don’t want because the worst people always end up in control of it, with the power of big money behind them. Don’t worry though, you’re in no danger from Ayn Rand and Fredrich Hayek. Worry more about the fascist Music Man you’re about to annoint for another four years.

        And this post was crap from beginning to end, kicking one straw man after another, but I have a policy of never arguing with an idi ot so I am just ignoring it.

        1. YankeeFrank

          So the solution is to replace nominall democratic government with corporate government. I’ll stick with the one we have. At least there is a chance we can reform this one. Corporate government has NO accountability. So until libertarians come up with a solution to corporate government their “philosophy” is a contemptible joke.

          1. jake chase

            No, the solution is a constitution properly restraining government, and laws controlling corporations, and a legal system focused on substantive justice. We’ve never tried any of these, just run on for two hundred odd years congratulating ourselves on our perfect democracy while electing one pompous charlatan after another, digging the cesspool deeper and deeper and falling for one scam after another, the latest being mortgage debt and student debt. Our population has been reduced to begging for jobs and a majority are now willing to suffer any indignity in order to get one. Forget freedom, just give us a job!

          2. Foppe

            Jake: how would you keep your ‘justice system’ from being infected by precisely the same partisan hacks as the ones who now form SCOTUS? Because those police commissioners under Giuliani and Bloomberg are at least as pro-corporate as the politicians, even if this generally isn’t talked about because the justice system is supposedly “neutral”.

  12. PQS

    Libertarianism isn’t some cutting-edge political philosophy that somehow transcends the traditional “left to right” spectrum. It’s a radical, hard-right economic doctrine…

    Ron Paul’s platform = Standard Republican crap, up to and including his prolife/antiwoman stance. It is the first plank on his page of “ideas.”

    My discussions with Libs typically end when I ask them how they can support a candidate who only believes in true personal liberty for half of the population, and obviously he believes this because he’s either a panderer or a believer in bullshit religious claptrap.

    1. Lambert Strether

      How does not treating half the population as not fully human square with “liberty”?

      * * *

      Cue the “no true Scotsman” argument, as libertarians queue up to argue that Paul isn’t really a libertarian (except when he is).

  13. deffe

    The only reason libertarianism exists is a massive amount of funding from plutocrats for the last century or so. Most libertarians have been conned into the ideology, basically by having it foisted on them while they’re in that vulnerable period around 19 or 20, where one realizes that the parties are both fucked up, and something has to be done to fix things. Capitalizing on the lifelong indoctrination of “liberty” and “freedom” that comes with being an american, here comes an ideology that’s seemingly all about being free to do anything as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. How could that go wrong. I’ve heard that the government is terrible at everything and only businesses can be efficient and get things done! Let’s do it, let’s be libertarians! Legalize weed!

    It takes a while to realize that negative liberty is not liberty at all. Libertarianism is only good for people who already have massive fortunes, there’s no way to maintain a “free market” without tons of state intervention. etc etc, basically there’s no substance at all, it’s a series of clever arguments camouflaging the fact that it’s only vehicle to allow rich people even leeway to do whatever they want to people and the planet.

    This adam davidson blog post explains a lot about how bogus libertarianism has infected the western world and made life objectively worse.

    1. Hiram Bilgewater

      Adam Curtis, not Adam Davidson. The latter is the shill on NPR/NYTimes who explains the ways of the plutocrats to us plebs.

    2. knowbuddhau

      That’s what I’ve always thought, deffe. Libertarianism walks, talks, and quacks like patrician white supremacy.

      As one who studied white supremacy in the Pacific northwest in college, I get a huge kick out of telling Ron Paul’s fanboys that their idol is a straight-up old school white supremacist.

      Great article, Yves, thanks for posting it.

      Connor Kilpatrick, I bow in your virtual direction.

    3. spooz

      If these hearts and minds in search of liberty and freedom are taught through debate the logical outcomes of their mises fueled fantasies, I believe a bridge could be formed for a new “rule of law” party, where anti corruption is the common goal.

      I find a little engaging with the mises posters on ZH can help the misled see through the propaganda.

  14. Capo Regime

    The Libertarians like other idealogues remind me of Hoffer:

    Nonconformists travel as a rule in bunches. You rarely find a nonconformist who goes it alone. And woe to him inside a nonconformist clique who does not conform with nonconformity.

  15. John Regan

    I’ve always thought that “libertarianism” was quite vulnerable to these kinds of practical criticisms. Their concept of “freedom” is so theoretical in its zeal to be perfect that it’s unhinged from reality.

    But the gold standard’s a good thing. Or at least gold redeemability. Redeemable money could actually facilitate the welfare state, at least in the sense that it would help keep it reined in enough to be sustainable.

    With fiat money the welfare state is bound to get out of hand.

    1. F. Beard

      A gold standard is fascist so so are you. A gold standard is an absurd limit on the government’s ability to create government money (besides providing a windfall to gold owners). There should be no such limit. Instead, after the entire population has been bailed out with full legal tender fiat (Greenbacks) then government money should be demoted to legal tender for government debts ONLY.

      You gold lovers would concede ANYTHING to get your gold standard, is my experience. That explains why RP cozies up to pot smokers to get their votes. He’d later disenfranchise them is my guess, probably via a poll tax or property requirement.

      1. John Regan

        Beard, when you trot out terms like “fascist” you’re just shouting down differing views, not dealing with them.

        I’m curious, though. Why would you demote the currency to “legal tender” for government debts only?

          1. John Regan

            Beard, I understand the analogy you are making. But you apparently do not understand what “legal tender” means, because it precisely makes government currency good for “all debts, public and private”. So making fiat “legal tender” only for government debt would be an oxymoron.

            Stll, I’m curious. Why would you do that? What’s the rationale?

          2. Darias

            Let me help beard…

            To do the same banks are doing… Steal wealth from the citizens for benefit of the few. That’s what spending does. Not a good feed for society.

      2. marris

        > You gold lovers would concede ANYTHING to get your gold standard, is my experience.

        I don’t get it. He says he wants restrictions on state spending. *That* is his primary concern. I’m sure you could talk him into supporting a silver standard (or a platinum standard, or an energy standard, or a BitCoin standard) if you wanted to. Just show that it would be a stronger restraint.

        1. F. Beard

          Artificial restraints on government money creation are absurd. Some government money creation is good; too much is bad; too little is bad. So somehow the mining rate of gold just happens to be the optimum creation rate for government money? Says who?

          1. Darias

            Says the citizens. You know.. Those that don’t want their wealth stole, like the banks are doing.


            Again, why does a gov have to spend more than it taxes?

          2. John Regan

            What restraints would you consent to? Do you agree that some restraints are proper?

            If so, is self-restraint the only thing that is not “artificial”?

            If not, then is money creation to be utterly limitless? Are there any criteria whatsoever, other than how much money people “need” or “want”?

            To make an analogy, can a quart of milk be one quantity one day, and a completely different quantity the next, based upon some authority saying: this is a quart, because I say so? So you feed your children a quart of milk one day and they’re fine, and then subsequent days they get less and less until they die of hunger, but the “quantity” never changed because it was always a “quart”, by fiat?

            That is what you are arguing. This is more basic than a philosophy of government or restrained v. liberal government spending. This is about whether anything is true other than by some pronouncement of whoever holds sway at the moment. You don’t know what you are advocating. It’s a terrible tyranny that even no tyrant ever dared consider. Even when they corrupted the coinage they were paying homage to the truth by the very act of concealing what they were doing.

            You are saying that there is no truth at all, other than what we will. You are saying that if a quart is one quantity today and lesser and lesser quantities tomorrow and the next day, and if our children starve to death because we’re not giving them enough to eat, that nothing is amiss because a quart is only what we say it is and nothing else. It has no meaning other than that, and if people die as a result so be it.

            Surely you can see that if I just shift the discussion away from money and gold and to some other weight and measure.

        2. Lambert Strether

          @darias why does a gov have to spend more than it taxes?

          Er, because government is not like a household, and taxes do not fund spending?

          The real needs of the real economy take precedence over year-to-year accounting constructs. And yes, the real needs are determined – gasp – politically.

          For an example from war, see Britain in the Napoleonic wars, which could not have been and were not financed from tax revenue alone.

          1. John Regan

            Government may not be like a household, but it is not exempt from the laws of nature. Nothing is, other than God, etc., if you believe in that kind of thing. Two and two equal four for the government just like everyone and everything else.

      3. Darias

        For some reason you think money is what you want and you want. But you need to explain why you prefer paper over metal. Outside of calling it stupid and the fact you cannot print gold, why?

        If I produce corn, and you produce chickens, why do we need increasing amounts of paper to trade a few corns for a chicken?

        Or is the idea to do what the bad are doing, with the presence of doing gods work?

        1. Lambert Strether

          I prefer paper over metal because paper beats rock.* Did you have some other potential explanation in mind?

          * To be fair, metal hammered into sheet form after a great deal of labor would also beat rock, assuming ductility.

          1. John Regan

            There’s nothing wrong with paper money. There’s nothing wrong with digital money. The problem is when “quantities” of money have an indeterminate meaning, at which point I suppose whoever squeals loudest or applies the most force wins. As you say, it’s all determined politically.

            I can’t believe anyone finds this acceptable, or even sane, any more than they would find no problem with quarts being an indeterminate volume, or yards or meters being an indeterminate length.

          2. F. Beard

            any more than they would find no problem with quarts being an indeterminate volume, or yards or meters being an indeterminate length. JR

            Bogus analogy. Value cannot be measured objectively.

            What you gold standard people seek is to place the power and authority of government to tax behind your shiny metal. That’s bogus since the power and authority of government to tax could back anything including Tally Sticks and paper. So why should the taxpayer have to buy your expensive metal in order to create government money? Cui bono?

          3. John Regan

            @Beard: Calling an analogy “bogus” doesn’t make it so. You’re in love with ipse dixit solutions to problems, aren’t you?

            The whole point of money, whether it’s dollars or drachmas, or for that matter fiat or gold based, is to provide some objective measure for value – by convention, not in some absolute sense. Just as quarts and gallons are a convention to standardize what would otherwise be infinitely variable quantities of liquid. There is no magic to any of this, it is an extremely simple idea made complicated only by your obsession with whose will is prevailing, who is getting over on who, or as you put it “cui bono”?

            You’re not even trying to solve the problem we’re confronting. You just want to change bosses – you, rather than someone else. In the end you’re no different from those you revile.

          4. F. Beard

            Baloney. Cui bono is the LEAST of the problems with the gold standard though that issue alone is enough to disqualify it. The government, for example, is rightly condemned for buying $700 hammers. The same logic applies to a gold “backed” government money supply. (I put “backed” in quotes since it is government backing the gold, not the gold backing the government money.)

            A far more important problem is the optimum rate for government money creation. That is hardly likely to equal the mining rate of gold, now is it? Are you willing to condemn people to unnecessary poverty so you can hoard government money without fear of it losing purchasing power?

            Go away and think! As a lawyer, you should realize that money creation is a problem in ethics and not one that will be solved with scarce metals. I suggest you start with Matthew 22:16-22.

          5. John Regan

            @Beard: Again, what is the “optimum rate” for deciding what a quart or a gallon is? Your question makes no sense. You’re conflating abstractions with reality when it comes to money.

            A “quart” is not itself a thing; it is a convention to measure something else that IS a real thing: gasoline, milk, water.

            A “dollar” is not itself a thing; it is a convention to measure something else that IS a real thing. It could be – and in fact is – used to measure many things, which is what happens when pusrchases are made with “dollars”; but without specifying what the convention is you wind up with a unit of measure that means nothing in particular. A convention that is not a convention.

            In other words, you renounce the obligation to make sense, to adhere to reason, to acknowledge the known truth.

            Matthew’s gospel passage has nothing to do with this, but if you religion interests you, you might research the term “resistance to the known truth”.

  16. tom allen

    I don’t see why you all are hating on Libertarians. They defend our legacy of knowledge, teach children both poor and rich the joy of reading, champion free public institutions that are a cornerstone of our liberty, and shush people who talk too loudly when they disturb the community.

    What? Oh, sorry, never mind. Librarians and Libertarians are sort of opposites, aren’t they? Librarians are way hipper and cooler, for one thing.

  17. The Dork of Cork

    There are so many flavours to chose from….even if you feel uncomfortable with free to choose dogma……..

    I like elements of Liberty Revival

    “Rejecting Marx, Keynes, AND Mises; Reviving Classical Liberalism, Biblical Economics, and Georgism; Untaxing Toil; Overturning the Tables of Usury; Reclaiming the Profit of God’s Earth for All this almost pure Greenback position.”
    But am slightly uncomfortable with its Georgist land tax position as I feel it could be abused by the banks to take power from others with potential money power.

    This is a good opening to a piece back in 2010.

    Honest and Sound Criticism of Zarlenga’s American Monetary Act

    Warning: This article is not recommended for those who consume William Volker Fund and Rockefeller Foundation propaganda on a daily basis from the Ludwig von Mises Institute. It is recommended you see a doctor for a prescription of anti-psychotics and a 90-day detox at minimum from the propaganda you consume on a daily basis. After that is done, you should look up the definition of the word “fiat” and consider staying away from Ludwig von Mises Institute and related propaganda for a minimum of 2 years. I spent 5 years to detox from the Ludwig von Mises Institute and all political propaganda.

    I also like elements of Zubrins big goverment can do Technologist view of things although he overdoes his attack on the typical German Pagan view of nature which is part of European culture that just likes trees & rocks…….its not some inherent Nazi flaw.
    Its the culture of the place.

  18. Cujo359

    This has always struck me as the central fallacy of libertarianism:

    “There is no such thing as a free-market,” economist Ha-Joon Chang has said repeatedly. “A market looks free only because we so unconditionally accept its underlying restrictions that we fail to see them.”

    In other words, markets are social institutions, just as much under the thumb of politics and government as everything else. Which means they’re subject to democratic pressures, as they should be.

    A thought experiment that economists use to try to figure out how real markets work becomes an ideal. Never mind that when left to work things out for themselves, the strong almost inevitably prey on the weak, and most of us, in at least some situations, do whatever we can get away with. We make laws about contracts and banking and all those other annoying “anti-market” rules because most of us learned a long time ago that not doing this leads to a market where no one can trust anything.

    1. ebear

      On reflection, it’s more like a trawl. Was there a hot button in there he didn’t push? Hell, if this guy was a fishing boat, the Coast Guard would seize him for using too fine a mesh.

  19. ArkansasAngie

    Speaking as a 54 year old fiscal conservative, social liberal … nothing like getting a lecture from … what … a liberal thru and thru?

    If you’re trying to wedge … you have succeeded. I’m wedged … from you.

    Neither a Republican nor Democrat be.

    1. F. Beard

      fiscal conservative, social liberal ArkansasAngie

      Can there be a worse combination? A greedy, drug using, pervert?

      I reckon it’s the greedy that sinks your boat since “love covers a multitude of sins.”

  20. Dustbowl Daze

    As a Post-Left Anarchist, I think Libertarians are lame. (“Post-left Anarchy” is a thing. Look it up.)

  21. Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Amen. I’ve been saying this for several years now. In fact, Communism has a better track record than libertarianism. Yes, you read that right. First, socialists set out to create socialist societies and to whatever extent they accomplished this goal, at least we can say somewhere, at some time, socialism existed. Can’t say the same for libertarian paradise. Communists set out to industrialize their nations, eliminate illiteracy, fight epidemic diseases which plagued their populations, and raise the standards of living and education. This they accomplished, to varying degrees. They did not outstrip the West, but some nations came pretty damned close and they did it against almost impossible odds.

    By contrast, there has never been a society run by libertarian principles. This is very important because right about now some libertarian is chomping at the bit to scream, in all caps, “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE 1.5 BAZILLION PEOPLE STALIN PERSONALLY MURDERED?!?!” Now without opening that can of worms in a comments section, and without pointing out the far larger number of people who have died and still die worldwide in the name of capitalist profit, I can simply point out that any form of society which hasn’t existed has committed fewer crimes, and killed fewer people, than one that has. Suppose we all agree that one person, EXACTLY one person, was killed by “capitalism.” If that is the case, my ideal society, based on my political principles known as Kreplockianitarianism, is superior to the murderous capitalist system. In Kreplockianitarianism, nobody will be killed, nor will they be forced to do anything. People will be free to run major corporations all by themselves and gum drops will rain from the skies every six months.

    In short, fuck libertarians, fuck Ron Paul, fuck every last one of his moronic, historically ignorant, dilettante followers, fuck Penn Jilette, and fuck the makers of South Park. You’re not clever, you’re not witty, you’re not politically savvy, and you damned sure aren’t subversive.

  22. Ruslan Amirkhanov

    And before one of you libertarian fuck-sticks gets all butthurt about my comment, maybe you should talk to your boys a little bit first. I have little patience for Paultards like the one who told me that he’d be much better off doing a shitty job in the 1890s than today because we’ve got too much regulation. I’m sure the girls of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory were happy as clams without the crushing iron heel of OSHA ruining their lives.

    Fuck, I don’t even know why I made that reference; it’s not like any libertarian would understand.

    1. F. Beard

      It’s the banks. How else could capital so mistreat labor if it had to pay honest interest rates for the workers’ savings or offer them an equity share? How would capital have labor to begin with if the banks had not stolen the family farms and businesses of their workers?

      It all goes back to the banks.

      1. Ruslan Amirkhanov

        First, I stick by my statement of Fuck South Park. Matt and Trey are great when they satirize themes of pop culture, as they did with Jerry Bruckheimer action films in Team America. However, they have a strong desire to be political satirists and fail because they don’t bother to actually understand what they are critiquing. The funnies satire has to be based largely on truth. The jokes in Team America which satirize Bruckheimer films are hilarious because we’ve seen those kinds of films and they really are similar.

        Second, one should not get confused by the role of banks. Capitalism needs credit, period. The power of banks will always be limited by the power of industrial, productive capitalism. They can type a few numbers into a computer and make hundreds of millions of “dollars” which exist only electronically, but some day every last dollar needs to be backed up with real money otherwise we get a crisis. The industrial capitalist needs credit to engage in that which industrial capitalists do- M C M1(Money, Commodities, Money prime or profit). Credit makes it possible for them to continually do this and thus stay afloat.

        1. F. Beard

          Capitalism needs credit, period. Ruslan Amirkhanov

          No, that’s equivalent to saying “Capitalism needs stolen purchasing power”. It doesn’t. It’s equivalent to saying “The free market requires a government enforced/backed money cartel”. That is sheer hypocrisy.

          Business needs for money can be accommodated by:

          1) Borrowing existing money at free market interest rates
          2) issuing common stock to investors
          3) from earnings
          4) vendor financing
          5) other honest means.

          Theft of purchasing power should not be an option.

        2. ebear

          The irony of South Park is you have to watch a lot of bad TV and movies to get half the jokes. So they’re not really mocking the content of TV and movies so much as the person watching them, i.e. the South Park viewer.

  23. Jim

    The Metaphoric foundation of Political Stances (whether libertarian or progressive or whatever)

    Any political perspective (including my own) must deal with the issue that there may not exist a purely descriptive reading of any situation or event.

    Libertarians tend to conceal their normative preference for the market by combining evolutionist theory (the market came into being naturally) with the doctrine of the “invisible hand.”

    Libertarian theorists (like Hayek) knew very well that a preference for a classical liberal order cannot be grounded logically and that is why he tends to conceal his choice behind evolutionary considerations which confirm upon his reasoning a air of objectivity.

    The same type of thinking inhabits the Progressive stance: their preference for an expanded role for the State also cannot grounded logically and that is why they tend to conceal their choice for an “embedded liberalism” behind economic and historical data which lend support to their normative reasoning and give it an air of objectivity.

    We all seem to exist in a world where we make antecedent normative choices on where to “cut” our conceptual focus (in this case, for the market or for the state). But the fact that there is a choice involved suggests that the language of problem identification does not transparently reflect a situation that exists independently from our formulations.

    We always seem to keep reality at an irretrievable arm’s length.

  24. Klassy!

    You know, those guys who call themselves “socially liberal but fiscally conservative”? Yeah. It’s for them.

    yes, but doesn’t this describe a hell a lot of Democrats too?

    “Hey man, if you don’t like it, you have the freedom to get another job.”

    Except when it comes to union membership– then this line of reasoning is not used.

      1. Klassy!

        Not sure why I wrote “but”. I certainly have no sympathy for Libertarians and find social liberals/fiscal conservatives especially distasteful– dishonest actually.

  25. Marley


    "Despite what Ron Paul’s trolls might have you believe, gold Krugerrands don’t spray out your asshole every time you type up a spreadsheet or pour a Grande mochachino for your next customer."

    Haaahahahah! Bookmarked! Classic!!!

    1. F. Beard

      Ironically, it is the current system (if one is “credit-worthy” and chooses to borrow) that allows people to create money. A 100% reserve gold standard would force us to borrow from the gold hoarders/usurers. That’s the opposite of liberty.

      1. Hiram Bilgewater

        I’ve been waiting for this piece for a while for this frequent flier on RT from Reason magazine. From the leather jacket to the sideburns, Nick Gillespie has had a “kick me” sign for a classic eXile hit piece on him for a very long time.

        1. Kyrie Eleison

          Reminds me of the “He’s Hip, He’s Cool, He’s 45!” sketch comedy series from The Kids in the Hall, right down to the leather jacket and everything.

          I wonder, does he speak hipster too?

  26. Me

    Which well functioning economic system is run along libertarian lines? Which fell functioning economic system has ever been run along libertarian lines? Has any economic system ever developed along libertarian lines? So what is there to argue? That some fools read Rand, Hayek, Rothbard or whoever during their sophomore year in college and never grew up? This libertarian nonsense isn’t taken seriously from any economist, save for a few wack a doodles. There are real world issues to try and solve and neoclassical economists make it hard enough as is.

    If I were a cosmologist and wanted to figure out how the solar system formed, would I bother studying the work of people who can explain how it formed but needed unrealistic assumptions for their models to work? Like, there isn’t one sun, there are two. There are three planets the size of Jupiter in the solar system, Earlth is three times as far from the sun as it really is, all planets have twice as many moons as we know they have, etc? Of course not. So why study the economic equivalent? Total rubbish.

    1. Dude From Arkansas

      Uh, that actually is how modern cosmology works. Dark energy, dark matter and such, underpinned by flawed models and not really supported by observation and experimentation, regardless of what recent headlines purport to prove. It’s more closely related to modern economics than a true science.

      1. Me

        Uh, not true. When cosmologists look at other galaxies, or the center of our galaxy, they see stars acting in ways that they couldn’t explain using the standard model. They realized that there was more gravity than what we can actually see. Yes, we can’t see it, but we can obvserve how it operates. Same goes with dark energy. We can’t see it, but we know whatever it is is there and we can study how it impacts the universe’s expansion.

        If you want a more apt comparison, it would be string theory. They haven’t been able to even come up with an experiment to test string theory out. There is a book out called “Not Even Wrong”, saying that because string theory can’t come up with an experiment to test its validity, it can’t even be called science. That works here. Libertarianism is “Not Even Wrong” economics.

        1. Dude From Arkansas

          That’s exactly my point … it’s assumed that the gravity centric model must be correct, so they have to create dark matter and dark energy to make their mathematical models work. Every time they observe something that doesn’t fit their basic model, they just tweak it, instead of admitting they could be wrong about their basis.

          Theory #2 (or 3 or 4) floating out there could actually be confirmed by the same data (possibly multiple times), but if everyone blindly assumes Theory #1 will ultimately be proven correct (or if that’s where the government grant gravy train is), why bother examining other theories, regardless of the scientific discipline we are discussing?

          So at some point, the real pursuit of science seems to be forgotten when it comes to astronomy/cosmology, and we probably won’t see any big changes until we reach a critical mass of evidence against the status quo.

          In regards to our current political/economic situation, we are reaching such a stage, I believe (and we long ago lost our focus on the common good, which I’ll say here would be the pursuit of government). But unlike cosmology, many people will be harmed if we can’t settle our differences and look beyond our petty squabbles and ingrained beliefs. Unfortunately, it’s times like these in which people do the exact opposite of what’s needed. That’s just the way humans work, perhaps.

          1. Me

            “That’s exactly my point … it’s assumed that the gravity centric model must be correct, so they have to create dark matter and dark energy to make their mathematical models work.”

            I don’t think that is true. I have to say, I am not, I am guessing you aren’t either, a cosmologist or an astronomer. It seems though, from my limited knowledge (read a couple books, watch the Science channel, so not much) that cosmologists thought the universe operated under certain laws and when they looked out and tried to use their tools to see if their theories worked, they saw that they didn’t. You make it seem as if the concept of dark energy was invented to fill in the holes of a theory. The truth seems to be that they theory didn’t match what they had observed and so they had to change the theory (no libertarian is going to admit that there is anything wrong with their logic, have yet to see it myself). I saw a program where one these folks said that dark matter is just a phrase they have attached to something they don’t yet understand.

            There is no libertarian economic system though, and libertarians don’t seem to care about 99% of economic history or theory. They filter everything through their ideological lense. It isn’t a science at all. Its closer to theology.

            “So at some point, the real pursuit of science seems to be forgotten when it comes to astronomy/cosmology.”

            I again don’t see it this way myself. They found something that was different than they or their models expected and they now are changing their models to try and make sense of what they have discovered. Have neo-classical economists changed their models in the last century and a half? No, not really. Have Austrians? Of course not.

            Its like what Keynes said about changing his mind when new facts are discovered: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

  27. Capo Regime

    An interesting result of the several scandals, corruption and malfeasance chronicled in this blog will be the rise of various political movements and “solutions and policies. There will be the greens a new and improved dem or repub party, third parties, advocay groups and other movements. Not all of these movements (or any) will necessarily be sound or coherent. Tough economic times do not necessarily bring about rational and reasoned responses and or reactions. There will be all manner of leaders and movements with ideas we cannot even begin to comprehend. Some will be reasonable and others quite insane. Not to mention the powers that be will also double down in strange and in some cases dangerous ways. More weirdness to come….The libertarians as loathsome as they are will be quaint in retrospect.

  28. Phichibe


    Wonderful post, and I’m glad to stand shoulder to shoulder with you and receive the hatred of Libertarians. The central tenet of Libertarians is “screw you, Jack, I’ve got mine.” To paraphrase Anatole France, the law forbids the rich and the poor alike from sleeping under bridges, but Libertarians are the trolls who’d charge you for the night.



  29. Infidel

    I read both and Naked Capitalism, and I am disgusted by the vitriol in this article. I consider myself libertarian, and moved towards libertarianism from liberalism.

    Libertarians are not 1% lackeys as posited here; we are concerned about the 1% using government to exploit the masses. The right traditionally is wary of big government, the left is wary of big business. What libertarians are concerned about is the NEXUS of big government and big business.

    The left’s approach to this problem is, “Let’s take back our government.” The issue with that is you have to trust those you vote to power will represent you and not their own re-election interests. That is almost never the case.

    If you want to prevent the 1% from using government to exploit you, the solution is less power in the hands of centralized government, and more power in the hands of people and decentralized government.

    That’s what libertarians stand for. The less power government has, the more power you have. The less money government has, the less the scope for corruption by politicians and bureaucrats. The more money you have, the more choices you can make on where you want to spend that money.

    As for the question on libertarian utopias, I would like to challenge the author on socialist utopias. Where are they? I grew up in a socialist country with poverty and unemployment. It was no utopia. I left my country because there was no opportunity. My family suffered terribly because of socialism. I can’t even describe the suffering here. And we were the relatively well-off who at least had food to eat. Your typical smug, wealthy westerner can’t even begin to understand that level of suffering.

    So before you criticize libertarianism and make ad hominem attacks on libertarians, look at what your leftist demand more government power has gotten you – corruption and thievery at every level. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Just remember that when you start slinging mud at libertarians.

    1. F. Beard

      There is the problem of reversing previous injustices. For example, all debt to the government backed/enforced counterfeiting cartel, the banking system, is morally invalid. Are we supposed to let that stand? Shall we enter a new Libertarian future with the playing field unjustly tilted in favor of a few?

      Not on your life.

      1. Puzzled

        So far as I can tell, the most important part of this rant is the discussion about the power of the rich and poor, and in particular, the claim that the purpose of the state is to enable people to work 20 hours a week at odd jobs while making lousy music and still be able to afford things. It turns out that there’s this field called economics, and that it helps to know something about it when commenting on such topics. See, the “freedom” to produce something valued by others less than what you want to receive just means others need to produce more than they receive. Why should this be obviously more moral?

        To put a fine point on it – why do you deserve to do things you know aren’t particularly valuable to others, and yet have others spend their time (including years of schooling) in order to do precisely those things you consider valuable?

        Libertarianism has always been called selfishness writ large. Yet the argument against it here is nothing but more selfishness.

        The reality is, though, quite different from what Kilpatrick wants. The reality is that he’ll never get a government to do nothing but ensure him the ability to sit in his basement making crappy music while still being able to have doctors drop what they’re doing (maybe they’d rather work 20 hour weeks and make crappy music too, but they can’t, because you need medical care) to treat him. Governments cannot, and will not, do anything but serve the interests of the rich. So to attack libertarianism as the philosophy of the 1% truly is disconnected from reality.

        I maintain that libertarians do not differ from others in ethics. Instead, we differ from others in recognizing reality, instead of pretending that our wishes are reality.

    2. Cujo359

      The left’s approach to this problem is, “Let’s take back our government.” The issue with that is you have to trust those you vote to power will represent you and not their own re-election interests. That is almost never the case.

      No, that’s the mistake that progressives have been making, but we don’t have to. Trusting the Democratic brand has been our problem. If progressives refused to support Democrats who failed to perform, there would be far fewer willing to not perform.

      1. Cujo359

        Forgot this one:

        So before you criticize libertarianism and make ad hominem attacks on libertarians, look at what your leftist demand more government power has gotten you – corruption and thievery at every level.

        Molestus hoc, ergo propter hoc reasoning. As the government has gotten more libertarian, at least regarding economic matters, it has gotten more corrupt as well. Correlation doesn’t equal cause, either, but I have yet to see a convincing case that it’s rampant liberalism that has led to this.

        1. Infidel

          “As the government has gotten more libertarian, at least regarding economic matters, it has gotten more corrupt as well.”

          Really? Where did you get the insight that government has gotten more libertarian? If government had gotten more libertarian, you would not have an Ex-Im Bank extension which steals from the 99% to give to the 1%. If the government was libertarian, there woud be no farm bill which takes from the masses to give to the politically connected farm lobby. If the government was libertarian, US taxpayers would not be forced to subsidize *Brazilian* farmers to keep them from suing the US at the WTO.

          If anything, power has gotten more concentrated with government, and that is being exploited by the 1% to legally steal from the 99%. The left’s solution is to find honest politicians who will do a benevolent exercise of power. Forget it. Not gonna happen. The libertarian approach of taking power away from the crooks in power will be far more effective.

          1. Cujo359

            We’ve been “de-regulating” since the 1970s. First the airlines, then power companies, then finally the banks. Probably missed a few dozen industries there, but you get the idea. You may have missed all that, but it happened, and that’s a libertarian idea, not a liberal one.

          2. Infidel

            “We’ve been “de-regulating” since the 1970s. First the airlines, then power companies, then finally the banks. Probably missed a few dozen industries there, but you get the idea. You may have missed all that, but it happened, and that’s a libertarian idea, not a liberal one.”

            Right. Airline deregulation got you what? Lower prices? And you don’t like that?

            What about privately owned power companies? Are you not satisfied with 24/7 electricity? Do you want state owned power which never hits 24/7 and has blackouts for 600 million people like in India?

            Bank deregulation? Really? Bailouts of privately owned banks by the state is a libertarian idea? Wow! If the state had less power (libertarian idea), would banks have been bailed out? NO! The state has too much power (liberal idea), and the result is that the rich get the state to bail their banks out.

            You are confusing corporatism with capitalism, pro-business with pro-markets. Being pro-markets is VASTLY different from being pro-business.

      2. Infidel

        “If progressives refused to support Democrats who failed to perform, there would be far fewer willing to not perform.”

        And who do you trust or support instead? Some messiah who will deliver on his promises? Or some bunch of enlightened, noble, honest politicians who will form an honest political party?

        Call me when you find your messiah. In the meantime, I will collaborate with everyone interested to dismantle concentrated government power so people can have it back.

        1. mafer

          Since you think state power is bad, whereas concentrated economic power is just fine, please explain how the forces of repression (police, military, CIA, etc) would function in a libertarian society. Would the “bad” state (executive commitee of the majority of the wealthy) control them, or would individual “private” interests control them?

          If you say the former, then you are little more than a garden variety Republican (not all are social conservatives). If you say the latter, then you are ape-shit crazy, since fiefdoms of private warlords would be far, far uglier than anything we have now.

          1. Infidel

            “Since you think state power is bad, whereas concentrated economic power is just fine”

            Where on Earth did you get the idea that I think concentrated economic power is just fine? Concentrated state power = concentrated economic power. You put all power in the hands of the state, and the state (or the rich through their control of the state) will own you.

            Look at communist countries. They are the ultimate example of concentrated state power which includes concentrated economic power. Our country is an example of the rich serving their interests through the power of the state. The issue is centralized power.

            As for your question on law enforcement, you are confusing libertarianism with anarchism. Private control of force is anarchism. Law enforcement is a legitimate function of government.

            Again with the military, the US constitution calls for the legislature to declare wars and not one individual (the King aka President) to waltz in to a country and start a fight. But look at what is happening in reality. Presidents can do whatever the heck they want. Today, “benevolent” Obama can order the killing of US citizens via drone. Tomorrow, the next GWB will come to power and point to Obama for justification.

            Can’t you see the problems coming from centralized, concentated power?

    3. UnlearningEcon

      And here we have the standard libertarian cognitive dissonance: the implicit separation of state and corporations. Everything that involves the ‘state’ side of this must mean that it’s a failure of big government. Shrink the government! That will end the wealthy’s ability to use their finance and connections to steer policy their way!

      Unfortunately you don’t seem aware that capitalism always has, and always will, involve(d) the capitalist class controlling the government. It doesn’t matter how ‘big’ this government is – they will be in charge. See all of recorded history.

      Capitalism as a system doesn’t care if it uses force, fraud, legislation, or whatever else, to increase profits. The government is not ‘outside’ capitalism; it is the primary instrument through which is operates. This was true when peasants were forced off their land; it was true when United Fruit Company had the US military bomb and stage a coup in Guatemala; it was true when financial companies ‘asked’ for bailouts.

      Cutting back social programs will not change this. But it will certainly make things even worse for the average citizen.

      1. John Regan

        “Asked”, in parentheses, for bailouts. LOL

        Well I do remember, indeed I will never forget, that Hank Paulson put on a brilliant, panicked performance before the congress in fall ’08. Looked like he was going to soil himself any minute. The pained expression, the anguish, the urgency.

        The utter lack of content, other than “Give us what we need, or we’ll crash the whole damn thing.”

        That really was history. One of the most historic things I have ever seen in my life, as big as the Kennedy assassination.

    4. Me

      “What libertarians are concerned about is the NEXUS of big government and big business.”

      In theory. In practice you do nothing but strengthen big business. You would do nothing to even wages and wealth, nothing on inheritance (where most wealth is obtained), nothing about oligopolies or monopolies. That would involve the government making decisions on where to allocate resources and what not, right? Economics, wages, profits, rent, is about power relations. Delude yourself all you want. What you would do is destroy any collective power given to people and leave them to battle corporate interests themselves. Pure tyranny. The big business you think you challenge use people like you to get rid of government, especially one interested in improving the lot of society and workers or protecting the environment. After that, you’re of no use to them.

      “If you want to prevent the 1% from using government to exploit you, the solution is less power in the hands of centralized government, and more power in the hands of people and decentralized government.”

      This is so naive. You aren’t handing power to regular working people, you are handing power and planning to PRIVATE centralized power. You act as if there isn’t private centralized power, that most every industry isn’t dominated by a handful of huge firms and that there isn’t huge differences in power between workers and capitalists. Chicago privatized its parking meeters. Did it hand it over to mom and pop companies? No. They handed over a natural monopoly to a bunch of private parasites who increased fees and the returns that the new rentier class obtained. When Becthtel went to Bolivia and tried to privatize the water (going so far as charging people for trying to catch rain water) they jacked up rates and caused a social uprising. I don’t understand how people in modern society can become so deluded and naive. When you privatize a service or resource and don’t have the government involved in allocating the loot in an equitable way, you must resort to the market mechanism. What will happen? The richest will, almost always, outbit the poorest and the less rich. This will create even more concentrated PRIVATE power. There are endless examples of this, so don’t try arguing against this point.

      “That’s what libertarians stand for. The less power government has, the more power you have.”

      So if I am a poor worker and you libertarian bastards get rid of the minimum wage, do I have more power? Obviously not. Before the government had my back a little and I knew my wages couldn’t go bellow a certain level. Now, with the government gone, I am one poor worker negotiating wages with a giant multi national company. Do you not see obvious problems with this in regards to differences in private power? Are you not intersted in looking at what happens to workers when put into this situation around the world? Clearly not.

      “The more money you have”

      Assuming of course that wage incerases would make up for the now eliminated and privatized services. If not, if I get sick and can’t afford it, can I pay the doctor with “individual liberty”? No, we aren’t children right? Do I, and the tens of millions like me, rely on charity? What a horrible world.

      “As for the question on libertarian utopias, I would like to challenge the author on socialist utopias. Where are they? I grew up in a socialist country”

      You see, this is the root of the problem. There ARE socialist countries. There are no libertarian countries. Not one. Anything close is a horrible basket case. Whatever you want to say about socialism, it had enough connection with reality and the real world that it could be attempted. You can’t say that about your pie in the sky religion. I asked a libertarian recently to give me a MODERN example of a well functioning “libertarian” health care system (I mean a nation wide system). His answer (after a very long pause)? 19th century America.

      Again, grow up.

    1. Waking Up

      At the website you linked, comments were made about being “libertarian” but planning on voting for Obama. Would someone please explain to me… if you are truly a libertarian who believes in personal responsibility and small government, how you could vote for a President who believes he has the right to be your accuser, judge, jury, and executioner? Wouldn’t that be against your fundamental core beliefs? Didn’t former libertarians try to prevent a president from acting like a king?

  30. marris

    Fantastic article. Fully divorced from reality, but hey, whatever.

    I love how the occupy guys have jumped on this “post-WWII America was awesome and getting more awesome until those ‘libertarians’ screwed it up” bandwagon.

    Many libertarians were created from the fallout of the Great Society welfare state experiments. You say most Americans today favor a welfare state? Maybe we’re talking about people who don’t remember the high crime, welfare fraud, and crushing poverty in 1970s, 1980s Harlem.

    Take a walk through Central Park recently? You’re odds of surviving are much higher. You can thank economic development for that. Ask the Indians or the Chinese if they’d rather go back to pre-capitalism.

    1. F. Beard

      Maybe we’re talking about people who don’t remember the high crime, welfare fraud, and crushing poverty in 1970s, 1980s Harlem. marris

      Back when banks were redlining? When one had to be white to get a loan from the counterfeiting cartel? Whites got the loans but blacks got the inflation? Them days?

      1. Fifi

        Kapow !

        Ambulance needed on Main and Broad. Repeat. Ambulance needed on Main and Broad.

        (I’m pretty darn sure I just saw a tooth discover the laws of ballistics on its own).

  31. RalphR

    Classic Libertarian fail.

    So one person saying they’ll quit reading is a threat? This is the fallacy of Libertarianism. NC, which is just a small business, doesn’t need you. You as a proud isolated Libertarian individual have no power even over a small business owner! Take that and smoke it! You Libertarians put your fingers in your ears and insist the only concerntrated power lies in the hands of the state.

    I think I read somewhere (here?) that business need to fire 15-20% of their customers, as in not cater to their demands and find ones that are better fits. You’ve self-identified as being part of that 15-20%.

  32. Durden Will Crush You

    Troll article.

    Complete misrepresentation of libertarians and obviously just trawling for clicks.

    The liberal muppets love the article because they aren’t smart enough to know better, the libertarians get angry because the article is so blatantly wrong about everything that it’s impossible to read.

    Well played.

    1. Cujo359

      Arguing with libertarians is a lot like arguing with Christians – quote what they write, quote their books, yet you never really “understand” what it is they’re talking about. This article did just that, by the way, so of course it “misunderstands” everything libertarianism stands for. Apparently, both libertarians and Christians are unable to write anything they’re thinking in a way the rest of us can interpret properly.

      I’ll go on being a “liberal muppet” at least until such time as that’s no longer true.

  33. Max424

    What a fun post with lots of good links.

    For instance, “thanks to our shitty constitution” leads to Seth Ackerman’s, Burn the Constitution. Methinks Ackerman has written a mini-classic. Here’s a sample”

    “The Senate is an undemocratic monstrosity in which 84 percent of the population can be outvoted by the 16 percent living in the smallest states.”

    I was talking with a libertarian-type blowtard not too long ago, and he was saying, despite the liberals and the niggers attempts to fuck EVERYTHING up, we still have greatest democracy EVER, because we have what no country has EVER had, a Constitution.

    I didn’t get in to the, “which countries have a guiding parchment and which ones don’t” argument, I just said, How can you have a democracy and an unrepresentative and extremely pro-active, House of Lords?”

    I also gave him a hard glare, like, Bring on the democratic arguments in favor of the Senate. Give me Jefferson’s idiotic “cooling saucer” argument. Give me something. I want to hear just one good, logical reason why the Senate, and democracy, might be remotely compatible.

    But he didn’t want any part of it. I could see his confused lips moving, mouthing the words, The House of Lords…the…House…of…Lords…?

    Then he mumbled something about, “I know for that the government can’t create jobs” and, “a business owner should have the right to bar undesirable creeds,” then he slinked away.

    1. rotter

      No johnny, your libertarian freind ISNT crazy, he just hates black people.. Right populism, whatever half assed internet assembled screed is used to support it, is always about personal resentment, and personalizing huge,impersonal socioeconomic forces. With right populism you are either exploiting the rubes, or you are an exploited rube. this is why there can never be a strategic alliance on the left with right populism, no matter how tempting it appears to try it sometimes.

  34. soolebop

    It’s easy to say that the welfare state is a check against the rich when you or anyone in you immediate surroundings are not on welfare. I’m faced with people who are on welfare day in and day out and it’s keeping them alive but barely. The rich benefit from the welfare state so why would they really want it to stop? Welfare checks are spent at Wal-mart religiously. If you asked the Wal-Mart millionaires and they were honest I bet they wouldn’t say they wanted welfare to stop. Besides that they never really have to worry about competition because the will to compete has been drained from most.

    The people on welfare have little or no initiative to fend for themselves. The incentive not to work is ingrained in them. The pride their grandparents had in not taking handouts is gone. As for health care, what happens when the country can no longer afford it? Truth be told we can’t afford it now! Do we really believe China will loan us the money to pay for this indefinetly? No, we’ll have to raise taxes like in Europe and drain any hope of sustainable growth out of America.

    We think we are helping people but we are hurting them tremendously. All the things you tote as having worked are huge failures. “child labor laws” these have given China and the third world a leg up on us. We’re soft now. Our kids don’t know what hard work is anymore. FAILURE. “The Civil Rights act” before the civil rights act there were whole thriving black business sections all over the country. Black businesses thrived under jimcrow laws, now black businesses are scarce. According to the 2010 census the median household income for blacks is close to $4,000. That’s failure. All whites weren’t racist, so what the civil rights act accomplished could have been accomplished without in due time. And I’m black so I’m speaking from experience when I say civil rights aren’t that great still. FAILURE.

    The federal income tax, the waist fullness and sloth of the Federal government couldn’t be what it is without the income tax. We are to the point that our President doesn’t even have to ask the people what we think of wars because we give up our money under threat of prison so he has what he needs. We have no control over our government our government has control over us. This is because we can’t vote with our dollars. And last but not least the tax code is a disgrace. FAILURE.

    The “minimum wage laws”, again, millions upon millions of jobs have left this country and most will never return. Lets call it what it is, a price control. It’s a price control on labor and we know price controls never work. Our competitive advantage is null and void mainly because of these laws. FAILURE.

    Social Security, really? Do I really have to point out why this is a failure? It’s the biggest ponzi scheme in the history of the world. Soon more people will be collecting the benefits than people adding to the fund. it wasn’t very well thought out to say the least. When they made it they acted as if the country would only last 60 more years! FAILURE

    Medicare, it has unfunded liability of $38.6T, or $328,404 for Each U.S. Household. Enough said. FAILURE.

    Food safety, this maybe the only one that your right on. but the administering of the laws is atrocious. It’s a bureaucracy in the worst sense of the word. That in of it’s self is a FALIURE.

    The sad truth is while we pat our selves on the backs thinking we’ve done a good for our country we have doomed our country. You can see it everywhere if you look.

    1. Ben Johannson

      This is the best you can do? Assertions without evidence, bald-faced lies and denial of reality will only get you so far. Good luck finding a place where government doesn’t tax. I’m sure any minute libertarians will come up with a homesteading country out to sea which will validate this particular piece of stupidity.

    2. F. Beard

      As Al Greenspan said, the problem is not whether SS can be paid but whether the payments will buy much so claiming the money isn’t there is bogus. The US Government can ALWAYS create the money. So the real problem is ensuring the purchasing power is there for Federal spending. But the banks create purchasing power too and their purchasing power competes with Federal purchasing power. See a problem there? What the heck are the banks doing diluting the power of Federal Spending?!

      So the problem of Social Security is no problem since the Federal Government can:

      1) Limit the ability of the banks to dilute Federal spending power
      2) Increase the SS payments to compensate for price inflation in the dollar.

      Of course we need a healthy society to be able to afford things in the real sense. That requires a healthy balance between government and private sectors which is currently TBD in some areas.

      1. Darias

        What else do we need?

        Let me try Clothing? Transportation?

        Or are pieces of paper more important?

    3. El Guapo

      This post provides good insight into how the libertarian mind “functions”. I wonder if its caused by an actual physical brain disorer? Lizard-brain-itis?

    4. Fifi

      (edited for proper capitalization and punctuation)

      ” Before the Civil Rights act, there were whole thriving black business sections all over the country. Black businesses thrived under Jim Crow laws. Now black businesses are scarce. ”

      You mean black businesses that thrived like in Tulsa, Oklahoma?

      Yeah, we all know what happened. And it had nothing to do with the enactment of the Civil Rights laws.,_Tulsa,_Oklahoma

      What a sorry, inept, ignorant wanker you are. Make this planet a favor; go somewhere quiet and off yourself.

    5. rotter

      This is going to have to be a bullet pointer..”The rich benefit from welfare”
      Boy howdy do “the rich benefit from welfare” lets us count the ways

      familliarize yourself with that page, but in the mean time, how do “the rich benefit” from the relatively tiny amount of cash payments made to the poor?? (the kind of welfare they ould “spend at walmart”) ?? if they benefit from welfare to the poor why are they so dead set on killing it?

      you said you “know people on welfare” also say that people on welfare have little reason to “fend for themselves”, making the insinuation that an individual or familly on welfare can be supported by it (comfortably since you said “no reason”) , and yet thats easily proven to be a vicious “misunderstanding”…single people arent eligible for “welfare”.period. The cash payment to a single mother with 2 children in say, Maryland, would be about 300-400 dollars per month…now, i dont know how much you live on, but its not 300 dollars per month. I know damn well if someone told you you had to survuive on 300 per month you’d hire a goddamn lawyer. Food stamps, add another 400, that can only be spent on food…in my calculations thats 700 per month. Now the average price of an apartment in Md. is about 1500 per month (thats probably low), now thats without ANY other bills water, no electricty or gas, no heat, no phone, no cable, Those add up to what, say 400?-500? Transportation adds another 250 per month at least..then there are co pays , emergencys, etc., so at a bare survival minimum, on average, it needs about 2500 per month to get by (AT LEAST) . that 700 is just not cutting it. SAY, you must not know these folks “on welfare” very well, i take it.



      no, i heard china had an argument with its wife, and she put the nix on any more money loaning ..really, that dosnet deserve a serious answer. do you really belive this shit or are you just one of those snotty, pot head ron paul volunteers playing a prank

      moving right along

      “tax and spend” not even adressing this until the rich dosuche bag tax cheats cough up the billions they owe and are hiding,illegally, out of the country..

      the “minimum wage” did not “send millions of jobs overseas”…Mitt romeny did that when he was a Bain capital, to break up unions, increase the reseveve army of unemployed and destroy the ‘middle class” so tis politcal power would be broken and nothing could stand in the way of “globalization”..

      “pozi scheme! ponzi scheme!”

      even if NOTHING is done ( like collecting all those stolen back taxes from millionare grifters) the Social Security fund will be able to pay out full benefits for at least another 20 years. Social Security is an insurance program…why dont you call you natuionwide rep and bitch at him for selling you a “ponzi scheme” next time, for a change..

      you read like a dick and jane book of dirt common right wing lies….you should really probably find a site thats easier to read..and/or where you can follow long looking at the pictures…

      1. Kyrie Eleison

        Pretty good, but with all due respect, Bain Capital is just one in a long string of beneficiaries of events that precipitated when Nixon opened the door to trade with “Commie China”.

        Subsequent Presidents have all followed this so-called “free” trade paradigm, with increasingly horrid results for the average working Joe.

        Once the unions are all busted up, which appears to be going right on schedule, and IMO is bittersweet since they have become just as corrupt as those they fight so vehemently, then we all can thank our leaders of all stripes for lowering the bar and finally winning the race to the bottom.

        1. rotter

          true, my dislike of typing(“texting” i suppose it is now) is so intense that once i start writing something im already 5 minutes late to wrap it up.

  35. AC

    “. . . . And do as thou will shall be the whole of the law.”

    ‘Libertarianism’ is just Satanism with a better PR firm.

  36. Teedak

    You start an article by negatively calling out everyone who is “socially liberal” and “fiscally responsible”. What level headed person is not in favor human rights and responsible use of finances? this is more pathetic E-Peen stroking. Write an article without alienating everyone who doesn’t have the same idiotic disposition you seem to have. Human beings have abused every platform for personal gain for as long as history has been told. Yes, even the platform you support.

    1. F. Beard

      Oh come on. “Socially liberal” is usually a bit more selfish than you describe and “fiscally responsible” is almost always so. So the combination = selfish + selfish = loathsome – the worst of both worlds.

    2. Lambert Strether

      Because “fiscally responsible” is code for “looting Social Security,” among other things. It’s in the semantic space of “government is like a household,” and “government should be run like a business” (notice how the same people will seamlessly transition between those two mutualluy contradictory tropes?), and betrays a lack of the real responsbilities that a goverment that is sovereign in its own currency has, which is to use the money it creates for public purpose.

      Does that help?

  37. JTFaraday

    Oh, great–another hip, cool new ideology. Just what we need.

    I’m going to go watch the Olympics.

  38. skippy

    I found this to be accurate enough, see.

    If Adam Smith returned and saw the more extreme aspects of neoliberalism, he would probably find them bizarre. Nevertheless, they derive from the ideas of early liberalism. The belief in the market, in market forces, has separated from the factual production of goods and services. It has become an end in itself, and this is one reason to speak of neoliberalism and not of liberalism.

    A general characteristic of neoliberalism is the desire to intensify and expand the market, by increasing the number, frequency, repeatability, and formalisation of transactions. The ultimate (unreachable) goal of neoliberalism is a universe where every action of every being is a market transaction, conducted in competition with every other being and influencing every other transaction, with transactions occurring in an infinitely short time, and repeated at an infinitely fast rate. It is no surprise that extreme forms of neoliberalism, and especially cyberliberalism, overlap with semi-religious beliefs in the interconnectedness of the cosmos.

    Some specific aspects of neoliberalism are:

    A new expansion in time and space of the market: although there has been a global-scale market economy for centuries, neoliberals find new areas of marketisation. This illustrates how neoliberalism differs from classic market liberalism. Adam Smith would not have believed that a free market was less of a free market, because the shops are closed in the middle of the night: expansion of trading hours is a typically neoliberal policy. For neoliberals a 23-hours economy is already unjustifiable: nothing less than 24-hours economy will satisfy them. They constantly expand the market at its margins.

    The emphasis on property, in classic and market liberalism, has been replaced by an emphasis on contract. In the time of Adam Smith, property conferred status in itself: he would find it strange that entrepreneurs sometimes own no fixed assets, and lease the means of production.

    Contract maximalisation is typically neoliberal: the privatisation of the British railway network, formerly run by one state-owned company, led to 30 000 new contracts. Most of these were probably generated by splitting services, which could have been included in block contracts. (A fanatic neoliberal would prefer not to buy a cup of coffee, but negotiate separately for each microlitre).

    The contract period is reduced, especially on the labour market, and so the frequency of contract is increased. A service contract, for instance for office cleaning, might be reduced from a one-year to a three-month contract, then to a one-month contract. Contracts of employment are shorter and shorter, in effect forcing the employee to re-apply for the job. This flexibilisation means a qualitatively different working life: many more job applications, spread throughout the working life. This was historically the norm in agriculture – day labour – but long-term labour contracts became standard after industrialisation.

    Market forces are also intensified by intensifying assessment, a development especially visible on the labour market. Even within a contract period, an employee will be subject to continuous assessment. The use of specialised software in call centres has provided some extreme examples: the time employees spend at the toilet is measured in seconds: this information is used to pressure the employee to spend less time away from the terminal. Firms with contracts are also increasingly subject to continuous assessment procedures, made possible by information technology. For instance, courier services use tracking software and GPS technology, to allow customers to locate their packages in transit. This is a typical example of the new hyper-provision of business information, in neoliberal economies.

    New transaction-intensive markets are created on the model of the stock exchanges – electricity exchanges, telephone-minute exchanges. Typical for neoliberalism: there is no relationship between the growth in the number of transactions, and the underlying production.

    New forms of auction are another method of creating transaction-intensive markets. Radio frequency auctions, such as those for UMTS frequencies, are an example. They replaced previous methods of allocation, especially licensing – a traditional method of allocating access to scarce goods with no clear private owner. The complex forms of frequency spectrum auctions have only been developed in the last few years. Neoliberals now see them as the only valid method of making such allocations: they dismiss all other methods as ‘beauty contests’.

    Artificial transactions are created, to increase the number and intensity of transactions. Large-scale derivative trading is a typically neoliberal phenomenon, although financial derivatives have existed for centuries. It is possible to trade options on shares: but it is also possible to create options on these options. This accumulation of transaction on transaction, is characteristic of neoliberalism. New derivatives are created, to be traded on the new exchanges – such as ‘electricity futures’. There is no limit to this expansion, except computer power, which grows rapidly anyway.

    Automated trading, and the creation of virtual market-like structures, are neoliberal in the sense that they are an intensification of “transaction for transaction’s sake”. However, a world in which all entrepreneurial activity was automated would not be neoliberal, or liberal.

    This expansion of interactivity means that neoliberal societies are network societies, rather than the ‘open societies’, of classic liberals. Formal equality and ‘access’ are not enough for neoliberals: they must be used to create links to other members of the society. This attitude has been accurately labelled ‘connectionist’.

    Because of contract expansionism, transaction costs play an increasing role in the neoliberal economy. All those 30 000 contracts at British Rail had to be drafted by lawyers, all the assessments have to be done by assessors. There is always some cost of competition, which increases as the intensity of transactions increases. Neoliberalism has reached the point where these costs threaten to overwhelm the existing economy, destroying any economic gains from technological change.

    The growth of the financial services sector is related to these neoliberal characteristics, rather than to any inherent shift to service economies. The entire sector is itself a transaction cost: it was almost non-existent in the centrally planned economies. In turn, it has created a huge demand for office space in the world’s financial centres. The expansion of the sector and its office employment are in direct contradiction of propaganda about ‘more efficiency and less bureaucracy’ in the free market.

    The speed of trading is increased. Online market data is expensive, yet it is now available free with a 15-minute delay. The markets move so fast, that the data is worthless after 15 minutes: the companies can then give it away, as a form of advertising. Day-traders buy and sell shares in minutes. Automated trading programmes, where the computer is linked direct to the stock exchange system, do it in seconds, or less. It is this increased speed which has led to the huge nominal trading volumes on the international currency markets, many times the Gross World Product on a yearly basis.

    Certain functions arise which only exist inside a neoliberal free market – ‘derivative professions’. A good example is the profession of psychological-test coach. The intensity of assessment has increased, and firms now regularly use psychological tests to select candidates, even for intermediate level jobs. So ambitious candidates pay for training, in how to pass these psychological tests. Competition in the neoliberal labour market itself creates the market for this service.

    The creation of sub-markets, typically within an enterprise. Sub-contracting is itself an old market practice, but was usually outside the firm. It is now standard practice for large companies to create competition among their constituent units. This practice is also capable of quasi-infinite extension, and its promotion is characteristic of neoliberalism. A few companies even required each individual employee to register as a business, and to compete with each other at the place of work. A large company can form literally millions of holdings, alliances and joint ventures, using such one-person firms as building blocks.

    Supplier maximalisation: this extends the range of enterprises that compete for each contract. The ideal would be that every enterprise competes for every contract offered, maximising competition and market forces. In the case of the labour market, the neoliberal ideal is the absolutely flexible and employable employee, who can (and does apply) for every vacancy. In reality, an individual can not perform every kind of work – but there is a real development towards non-specialised enterprises, especially in the producer services sector. In neoliberalism, instead of the traditional ‘steel tycoon’ or ‘newspaper baron’ there are enterprises which “globally link people and knowledge, and cultures” or “advise and implement solutions to management issues”. (In fact these are quotes from the accountants Price Waterhouse, but you can not guess this from the descriptions).

    Neoliberalism is not simply an economic structure, it is a philosophy. This is most visible in attitudes to society, the individual and employment. Neo-liberals tend to see the world in term of market metaphors. Referring to nations as companies is typically neoliberal, rather than liberal. In such a view Deutschland GmbH competes with Great Britain Ltd, BV Nederland, and USA Inc. However, when this is a view of nation states, it is as much a form of neo-nationalism as neoliberalism. It also looks back to the pre-liberal economic theory – mercantilism – which saw the countries of Europe as competing units. The mercantilists treated those kingdoms as large-scale versions of a private household, rather than as firms. Nevertheless, their view of world trade as a competition between nation-sized units, would be acceptable to modern neoliberals.

    Competition for inward investment, on the other hand, was generally unknown until the late 19th century. This competition is often seen by activists as the core doctrine of neoliberalism, especially since the neo-mercantilist policies are easy to understand and very unpopular: wage cuts, less money for public services, less tax on the rich. The neo-mercantilist nation, in other words, behaves like a caricaturally mean and nasty capitalist. It is not relevant either for these policies, or for opposition to them, whether they have any effect at all. Perhaps investment decisions are not made on this basis, perhaps there is no real mobility of capital, perhaps no investor is interested in Argentina, for instance. But so long as the Argentine government believes that it should pursue certain polices to attract investors, then it will do so. So long as it believes that the ‘SA Argentina’ is a business firm, then it will run Argentina accordingly.

    Summarising neoliberalism
    To conclude, here are summaries of neoliberalism in two forms. First a list of key points in neoliberalism:

    transaction maximalisation

    maximalisation of volume of transactions (‘global flows’)

    contract maximalisation

    supplier/contractor maximalisation

    conversion of most social acts into market transactions

    artificial maximalisation of competition and stress

    creation of quasi-markets

    reduction of inter-transaction interval

    maximalisation of parties to each transaction

    maximalisation of reach and effect of each transaction

    maximalisation of hire/fire transactions in the labour

    market (nominal turnover)

    maximalisation of assessment factors, by which compliance with a contract is measured

    reduction of the inter-assessment interval

    creation of exaggerated or artificial assessment norms (‘audit society’)

    A final summary definition of neoliberalism as a philosophy is this:

    Neoliberalism is a philosophy in which the existence and operation of a market are valued in themselves, separately from any previous relationship with the production of goods and services, and without any attempt to justify them in terms of their effect on the production of goods and services; and where the operation of a market or market-like structure is seen as an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action, and substituting for all previously existing ethical beliefs.

    Skippy… I said it yonks ago… we have a Ferengi problem, see:

    Ferenginar, is the center of the Ferengi Alliance and is governed by the Grand Nagus and a Commerce Authority made primarily of the Council of Economic Advisors (formerly Board of Liquidators). Like most of their culture, their religion is also based on the principles of capitalism: they offer prayers and monetary offerings to a “Blessed Exchequer” in hopes of entering the “Divine Treasury” upon death, and fear an afterlife spent in the “Vault of Eternal Destitution”.

    A bigger problem than – Debt – is – the Market – its self. Everyone is a slave or priest to it, willing or not, whom sings its praises the loudest[?], the cultists!

    1. Darias

      And you had to really write all this?

      Does the bubble say you will feed your self with the sweat from your forehead?

      Or was it with the sweat from someone else?

      Btw… What do derivatives have to do with free markets and what’s wrong with them?

      1. Ruslan Amirkhanov

        1. As the article states, there is no such thing as a free market. Those who insist otherwise have the burden of proof.

        2. Derivatives and any other method of making billions of dollars based on things which may or may not exist tend to cause problems.

        1. Darias


          So derivatives are bad because they “cause problem”, whatever that means, or is it because your gov bailed out those that took risks knowing the potential losses?

          What is that little statement when you open a brokerage ACcount?

          So is it free market or gov intervention or free market the issue?

          1. skippy

            Methinkniks… Derivatives are just a symptom of a larger problem, an inability within the market to divine the future accurately, when so many *economic rationalists* are doing – THEIR – thingy.

            Skippy… and any dye in the wool economic rationalist (neoliberal market worshiper) will tell you… never gamble with your own capital… always use others.

          2. Darias


            What happens if I steal your money? I go to jail.

            So the act of stealing is not a new concept. Gov not putting derivative managers in jail and bailing them out is.

            Why don’t we acknowledge that the gov is the issue not free Arleta.

            And yes, there can be a free market.

          3. skippy

            “Free market” is one of those – vacuums phrases – ideological cultists bandy about, its all about *belief* and nothing else.

            Please retort at the same level the above comment does and leave the “I” – said so – to the religious mobs, lest your to be confused as one of them.

            Skippy… Libertarians cough… armchair thunkit morons. Get some evidence please, try from further back than a few thousand years of gibberish too.

          4. Darias

            Evidence of what?

            You commit a crime you go to jail like everyone else.

            We can change the system a million times and if banks, irrespective of who manages money supply, get in trouble and are bailed out on the back of tax payers we are back to square one.

            It’s not that complicated you know. You play with fire, you get burnt.

            The free market exists for all of us. Go open a shop and don’t figure out a way to make more than you spend, see what happens.

            Why even ask the question? You want fairness? Fairness for who.. Not the rich, but definitely not all. Is that ironic or what?

          5. skippy

            Your inability to engage no further than – truisms – is a mighty cultist tell. Try addressing a few points made in the comment above rather than rambling homily’s about fairy tales.

            Skippy… ex executive and some other silly posts, go preach to the ignorant.

          6. Darias

            Blah blah blah…

            Why don’t you try to read that yourself. You might scratch your head…

            Adding Skippy does not change a thing. Ignorance might be a bliss.

      1. Septeus7

        Yes skippy, that was an excellent post. I’ve copied it onto my hard drive for future reference against the idea of markets as something always something to be desired. Real economic progress is about helping people not processes as in markets.

  39. different clue

    I remember in 1980 going to a debate on my college campus between McBride (?) the Libertarian candidate and Barry Commoner the Citizens Party candidate for President for election 1980. During the question-answer period someone asked the Lib candidate what he thought about illegal immigration? He said: “I think its just great that so many people want to come to our great COMpany! er . . uh . . COUNtry!” Talk about your freudian slip.

    Libertarians are about the money, the whole money, and nothing but the money. Its all they ever will be. Its all they ever were.

  40. Starchild

    There needs to be more emphasis placed on whether things judged to be “hip” and “cool” are in fact positive developments or not.

    To the extent that libertarians stays true to the heart principle of non-aggression, I believe libertarianism is a very good thing for the world.

  41. Steve

    It would be great to see a Libertarian in the Oval Office, but there’s only so much good that would do. There’d have to be a lot of Libertarian members of congress for people to realize how good it is.

    I’m pretty sure Democrats and Republicans would do everything in their power to bypass any veto a Libertarian president would offer, and the result of that as a whole would be more of the same, and Libertarians would be dismissed again.

  42. Starchild

    Connor Kilpatrick says libertarianism is “the last ditch effort of the ruling class”.

    That’s a pretty ridiculous claim. What is Ron Paul if not a huge pain in the ass to the ruling class? His nickname in Congress was “Dr. No” because he was always voting “no” in *opposition* to their legislation.

    Libertarians want bigger changes to the status quo than either conservatives or liberals, and the status quo, by definition, is what the ruling class wants. To the extent that it does *not* get what it wants, it is not the ruling class.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I have to assume that the libertarians sent their best to NC, so this is a pretty pathetic understanding of both “ruling class” and “status quo.” Mitt! Barry! Lloyd! Jamie! Don’t worry! There’s nothing here!

      * * *

      Obviously, the “status quo” is dynamic, and the ruling class manages a portfolio of political factions opportunistically. If you think Paul either isn’t or can’t be added to that portfolio, than liberatarianism is more delusional and wankerific than I ever imagined.

  43. Starchild

    “Smoke your reefer and sodomize whomever you please, just keep your mouth shut and hand over your Social Security account” — this is how Connor Kilpatrick ridiculously characterizes attitude toward libertarianism of those who run the U.S. government and have been stealing the money in our Social Security accounts, so that now there is no trust fund, there is nothing there.

    You think the U.S. government is saying “smoke your reefer”, Connor? Are you denying the current crackdown on marijuana, in defiance of voters at the state level? Are you really going to sit there and deny that the “War on Drugs” is a project of the ruling class?

    And are you really going to sit there and deny that the Obama administration, and Democrats when they have held both houses of Congress, and during the Clinton administration, have continued and expanded the “War on Drugs”?

    1. Foppe

      I hate to disappoint you, but I doubt you have “caught” Conner by noting this. In fact, I suspect you are simply misreading his text. What gave you the idea that Connor votes democrat? And if he doesn’t, why do you think it disproves his point to say that the democratic party is equally bad?
      If you want to disprove his point, you need to engage with this fact:

      It’s a radical, hard-right economic doctrine promoted by wealthy people who always end up backing Republican candidates, no matter how often they talk about civil liberties, ending the wars and legalizing pot.

      Namely, the fact that for some reason economic rights — mostly the rights employers “deserve” to abuse their employees — always seem to trump personal rights, and why libertarians never talk about the need for the latter, unless it affects basically pointless stuff such as the right to use recreational drugs. Seriously: who cares, iwhen faced with this?

    2. rotter

      You mean ron paul. “the distinguished senator” from libertarry land? Thats what you call “anti establishment”?

  44. right

    He failed to define libertarianism (or liberalism for that matter), or any important terms.
    The 1st paragraph was just pointless ad hominem,
    the 2nd was about a poll which doesn’t prove anything,
    the 3rd just cherry-picked one-sentence quotes from 1 economist and quoted it as if he’s an authority on every econ matter ever (which would lead anyone even marginally familiar w/ modern econ to dismiss his analysis entirely since it contains 0 empirical facts),
    the 4th was just a straw man setup where he goes “Libertarians (one link which may or may not support the claim) think Singapore is unconditionally great. Therefore, any arguments against the gov’t of Singapore count as arguments against libertarianism” (ie fallacious nonsense)
    the 5th just provides more evidence that this guy has never taken an econ class, or even read any econ besides socialist dogma, as he demonstrates w/ his fundamental ignorance of property rights arguments & of the concept of “opportunity cost”, which dictates that you consider other possible resource distributions that are foregone in any 1 distribution scenario. ALL of Marx took as a premise his “labor theory of value”, which has been proven false. Just 1 reason why Marx (and the other bibles this guy reads) hasn’t been taught in econ classes for a century,
    Then he claims that libertarians all vote for republicans which is just obviously, verifiable, empirically false, but that doesn’t seem to bother this guy. And then he switches back to his favorite fallacy, ad hominem, bringing this truly pointless and ignorant “article” to a conclusion.

  45. Starchild

    Addendum to my comment above — As to *why* a company probably won’t offer to pay you what Connor Kilpatrick would probably consider to be a “living wage” to be a driver for them and work only 20 hours a week, I can think of two major reasons:

    (1) Governments impose, indirectly via regulations and directly via taxes and fines, extraneous expenses that eat up a significant amount of the money a business takes in; and

    (2) There is less free market competition among companies employing drivers as there would be if governments did not add as much complication and expense as they do to the already demanding task of running a business, and the less competition there is among employers, the more it is an employer’s market and not a worker’s market.

    1. skippy

      Where have you been for thousands of years… eh.

      The problem is influence by the private – corporate – greed sector into the government, this has be so since gawdkings and priests. Government decree vs. Corporate decree[?] WTF the line between the two is is an illusion, at least Monarchy is honest about it.

      Skippy… wealth as the determining element in a humans ability to manage others… mon dieu[!]… whom did that ill wind issue forth from?

      1. rotter

        yes..the campaign for “smaller govt” is nothing more than those who already have 99% of the power, defrauding the rest of us into giving the little we have remaining to us, in the name of “freedom”. They are getting you suckers to pay them to be allowed to paint the fence for them, and your all concinved that makes you “smarter” than the rest of us “muppetts”…the first time i saw that word i had to choke on a little puke..i knew it was going to become one of those dog-whistle training words, infinitely repeated by the legions of saps who think they have a seat at the table, just becasue they parrot thier masters commands..

          1. Arslan Amirkhanov

            Really? Interesting theory. Tell me, why is it corporations have and still do spend billions of dollars every year lobbying the government for deregulation of their industries, and why do the same corporations also fund libertarian think-tanks like CATO, as well as other organizations which recommend corporate deregulation? Why did large corporations fight safety, wage, and labor regulations tooth and nail for DECADES before such regulations were implemented, largely due the militant labor struggle in the Depression era? Lastly, where did those big Gilded Age monopolies come from in the first place if government regulation is what creates these things in the first place?

  46. Mike Hunt

    Because the majority is uniformed as to what Libertarians actually are politically, even Libertarians don’t know their own politics, I decided to share some links and quotes.
    Raise your hands if you knew Ayn Rand considered them “Hippies of the Right”
    That’s because true Libertarians are actually True, not the crap we see today, Anarchists.
    Funny how people just don’t understand old school political distinctions and definitions.
    Like all you faux pacifists.
    Libertarianism refers to the group of political philosophies that emphasize freedom, liberty, and voluntary association. Libertarians generally advocate a society with a government of small scope relative to most present day societies or no government whatsoever.

    The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines libertarianism as the moral view that agents initially fully own themselves and have certain moral powers to acquire property rights in external things.[1] Libertarian historian George Woodcock defines libertarianism as the philosophy that fundamentally doubts authority and advocates transforming society by reform or revolution.[2] Libertarian philosopher Roderick Long defines libertarianism as “any political position that advocates a radical redistribution of power from the coercive state to voluntary associations of free individuals”, whether “voluntary association” takes the form of the free market or of communal co-operatives.[3] According to the U.S. Libertarian Party, libertarianism is the advocacy of a government that is funded voluntarily and limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence.[4]

    Libertarian schools of thought differ over the degree to which the state should be reduced. Anarchistic schools advocate complete elimination of the state. Minarchist schools advocate a state which is limited to protecting its citizens from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud. Some schools accept public assistance for the poor.[5] Additionally, some schools are supportive of private property rights in the ownership of unappropriated land and natural resources while others reject such private ownership and often support common ownership instead.[6][7][8] Another distinction can be made among libertarians who support private ownership and those that support common ownership of the means of production; the former generally supporting a capitalist economy, the latter a socialist economic system.

    Political scholars such as Noam Chomsky assert that in most countries the terms “libertarian” and “libertarianism” are synonymous with left anarchism.[9] In the United States people commonly associate the term libertarian with those who have economically conservative and socially liberal views (going by the common meanings of “conservative” and “liberal” in the United States).[10]

    For the record, I shall repeat what I have said many times before: I do not join or endorse any political group or movement. More specifically, I disapprove of, disagree with, and have no connection with, the latest aberration of some conservatives, the so-called “hippies of the right,” who attempt to snare the younger or more careless ones of my readers by claiming simultanteously to be followers of my philosophy and advocates of anarchism. Anyone offering such a combination confesses his inability to understand either. Anarchism is the most irrational, anti-intellectual notion ever spun by the concrete-bound, context-dropping, whim-worshiping fringe of the collectivist movement, where it properly belongs.

    The Objectivist

    “Brief Summary,”
    The Objectivist, Sept. 1971, 1

    Above all, do not join the wrong ideological groups or movements, in order to “do something.” By “ideological” (in this context), I mean groups or movements proclaiming some vaguely generalized, undefined (and, usually, contradictory) political goals. (E.g., the Conservative Party, which subordinates reason to faith, and substitutes theocracy for capitalism; or the “libertarian” hippies, who subordinate reason to whims, and substitute anarchism for capitalism.) To join such groups means to reverse the philosophical hierarchy and to sell out fundamental principles for the sake of some superficial political action which is bound to fail. It means that you help the defeat of your ideas and the victory of your enemies. (For a discussion of the reasons, see “The Anatomy of Compromise” in my book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.)

    Philosophy: Who Needs It

    “What Can One Do?”
    Philosophy: Who Needs It, 202

    The “libertarians” . . . plagiarize Ayn Rand’s principle that no man may initiate the use of physical force, and treat it as a mystically revealed, out-of-context absolute . . . .

    In the philosophical battle for a free society, the one crucial connection to be upheld is that between capitalism and reason. The religious conservatives are seeking to tie capitalism to mysticism; the “libertarians” are tying capitalism to the whim-worshipping subjectivism and chaos of anarchy. To cooperate with either group is to betray capitalism, reason, and one’s own future.

    The Objectivist Forum

    Harry Binswanger, “Q & A Department: Anarchism,”
    The Objectivist Forum, Aug. 1981, 12

    “Well I sometimes call myself a libertarian but that’s only because most people don’t know what anarchist means. Most people hear you’re an anarchist and they think you’re getting ready to throw a bomb at a building. They don’t understand the concept of voluntary association, the whole concept of replacing force with voluntary cooperation or contractual arrangements and so on. So libertarian is a clearer word that doesn’t arouse any immediate anxiety upon the listener. And then again, libertarians, if they were totally consistent with their principles would be anarchists.”

    Robert Anton Wilson

    1. skippy

      Mike, the problem is… there are as many definitions as there are believers or proponents of any ideology, humans have a habit of ad hoc assemblage.

      Skippy… But methinks you know that.

  47. Sasha

    On one of those ‘poorly sourced, speculative’ articles you mentioned, I put the following comment, sincerely inviting progressive reply. The replies I got were simply disappointing. Let’s see if anyone on this site has a bit more juice up in the head to pen a cogent rebuttal:

    The progressive’s great plan: “Corporations control the government, so let’s fix that by making the government more powerful.”

    This is the crucial realization, the crucial myth-busting, that been driving so many from the liberal to the libertarian side.

    Most everybody disagrees with the vast power that corporations have as a society. I bet every single person reading this would agree with that.

    The progressives have one primary solution to this: more regulation. More rules, more laws, more red tape, THAT will put the corporations in a cage.

    But this strategy has plainly failed.

    Why has it failed? Because the corporations themselves are writing the laws. Even when they don’t write the laws, they can easily skirt them. Hire accountants, consultants, etc. Or, just break the laws and pay some puny fine.

    Small businesses, on the other hand, don’t have these luxuries. They must pay full price, and many times the regulations are enough to smother them in their cradles, or at least keep them from expanding.

    And this gets to the core of the matter: What corporations really fear is not regulation, but COMPETITION. They fear losing market share and revenue.

    Seen from this context, the regulatory state very much helps corporations. It helps them squash their small competitors before they become large. Examples of this legion, and can be seen in hundreds and thousands of cases from the local on up to the national level, in almost every industry in the economy.

    Liberals often say that Government is needed to protect us from monopolies, but what we see in the real world is that 99% of monopolies are in fact created by the government.

    The only US industry that has seen an explosion of small startups that rapidly become large and challenge the power players is the one industry that is least affected by regulation: tech.

    Libertarians coldness to conservative’s fundamentalism, plutocracy, support of the police state, and war hysteria is obvious. But there is a reason why many libertarians have also become quite hostile to liberalism/progressivism: because we believe that the progressives are the unwitting architects of the corporatism they so despise.

    1. Mark Hilgenberg

      “because we believe that the progressives are the unwitting architects of the corporatism they so despise.”

      Sadly I think you are right, while my roots are in the left/progressive movement, I did find that adding more government compromises (regulations) were not nearly as strong as ending the current government protections and privileges added to corporations.

      We would have very few executives take on undue risks if they knew they were financially and criminally liable for the harm caused. Most people forget, rule one with Libertarians is do no harm.

  48. charles 2

    First I have to correct a few erroneous facts about Singapore :
    A) it is not a one party state. There are free election, there is an opposition, and it is actually progessing in the polls. That it didn’t (yet?) took power is not a valid criterion.
    B) Singapore has around the same number of policeman per population than the US (see here : ). The inflated figures you may have seen comes from the inclusion of reservists, who serve about 3 weeks a year. I would add that a good 30% of the active force is made of young men doing their 2 years national service. Having tested both in real life, I can tell you that a NYC or a LA police officer is much stressful than his younger and more laidback Singapore counterpart.
    C) You can personally import and possess chewing gum (they won’t be confiscated at customs…). Only reselling is prohibited. The picture you show is not an official display, most likely an humourous tee-shirt.
    D) Singapore is NOT a libertarian paradise, the hand of the state is very strong in the economy (especially through the practical nationalization of land rents).

    Regarding the main topic of your post, The real cause for the impoverishment of workers vis-a-vis the holders of capital (be it material or intellectual), is the relative abundance of workers compared to capital. There are just many many capable people on planet Earth today and they fight to have the good jobs with ALWAYS come with relatively scarce productive capital attached to them one way or another. There are several ways to improve that situation :
    – get rid of some people : this is what the great plague has done at the end of the middle ages and it indeed improved the situation of the survivors. Another way to do it is through low fertility, but it takes a long time to see the effect (we should start to witness it at the end of the 21st century though). Finally, war does also the trick on a smaller scale (see for instance french and german killing each other en masse in WW1, which clearly improved the bargaining power of the survivors and the few kids they had one generation later). I obviously wouldn’t recommend the latter considering the amount of suffering it generates. it also has the nasty trendancy of destroying capital, which brings me to the second way :
    – increasing the capital stock : this is really what Keynes had in mind when talking about the eradication of the rentier class. When capital is abundant, EVERYONE can have this dream 20 hours/week jobs that earns enough to live a good life which you are talking about. The only way to increase the capital stock is that is has a positive real return AND is reinvested. Therefore investing in profitless ventures or spending caital returns on consumption (either by conspicuous consumption of the dividend of the 1% Shareholders or the less conspicuous consumption, funded by taxes of capital returns, of the 99%) delays the moment when you can have your dream job. Consumption today, by anyone, rich or poor, is the enemy of comsumption tomorrow.

    The current global imbalance between workers and capital is real. What if you don’t want to wait for the, just as real, favourable long term trends in population reduction and capital accumulation ? You definitely can, and that is by achieving “local” relative scarcity, by preventing domestic capital to get out and preventing foreign workers (or their output) to get in. There is a global loss of output if this is done, but I can fully accept that you are ready to accept worse economic outcomes for the chinese worker to get a better outcome for the american worker.
    Free circulation of goods and capital is frequently associated with libertarianism, but there are more than a few libertarians (such as Karl Denninger in the US and I would guess lots of the tea-partiers) who are opposed to it. You should consider more carefully their views because you actually may have the same goals…

  49. Tiger

    Look people, I really am surprised at the huge animosity and partisanship and people complicating themselves and getting lost in the details that they WANT to get lot in.

    The fact is this article sucks both in form and content. The form shows the author’s thoughts are not organized and the content, as many said is mostly ad hominem, nit picking and lacking definition. And close minded most importantly.

    I love NC but I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Lambert’s comment implies that this means I’m in favor of raiding social security but I’m actually not even American so …??? I don’t even care about the ss debate so much.

    I hate big banks big pharma etc’, I hate useless wars, I hate the police state and I believe we should have justice for all. IF THIS ARTICLE SAYS I’M AN IDIOT FOR THOSE VIEWS, I SAY:


  50. Jeremy

    As a self-identified libertarian, I pretty much concur with just about everything in this essay. Libertarianism has been hijacking by apologists for state capitalism, and as that economist said, what you think a “free” market is constitutes the limits of your tolerance and imagination. To the extent libertarians have always demanded a shallow, privileged freedom in an environment riddled with authoritarianism, privilege, and hierarchy, they have betrayed their ethos.

    Far too often, libertarians pick and choose the gov’t intervention that skews our economy (what are corporations but state-chartered entities designed to prevent owners from assuming full liability for their property’s actions?). There are left libertarians who believe that leftist concerns like the labor struggle, privilege, anti-capitalism, etc. are authentically libertarian concerns, once libertarianism is properly constructed. See here and here.

  51. Anarcissie

    I think if you’re going to have an anti-libertarian rant, you should at least take libertarians at their word, and not make up stuff about them. After all, if they have no power (and they don’t) only their words matter. Libertarianism is simply liberalism taken literally. It’s full of contradictions and absurdities because liberalism, including progressive liberalism, is full of contradictions and absurdities. If I may quote Sasha for an example: ‘The progressive’s great plan: “Corporations control the government, so let’s fix that by making the government more powerful.”’ I’m afraid one could go on at great length; perhaps you can do it for yourselves.

    1. rotter

      Well we just hed areselves a faahhhhhn lil ol liberrterrian whooppin thar lil missy, now whada yew think o that..

  52. Stephen

    So, I’m curious. In this ideal scenario at the end of the article, why are you doing odd jobs for 20 hours a week? Since political philosophy apparently comes down to just making demands about the life you’d like, why not just really commit to it, and get rid of the working entirely?

  53. Gustav Molinari

    Sexual intercourse is subject to democratic pressure. Why? Logic, because it’s a social institution that’s why!

  54. Winston

    I’m not going to waste time arguing with liberals and libertrainas at each others throats, an excercise as productive as arguing over the arangement of deck chairs on the Titanic. I’ll just post this:

    “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” — Thomas Jefferson

    and simply say, “We are screwed.”

  55. Marc

    What a sad indictment of humanity. With tiny minded fucksacks like you leading “liberal” thought, this country is dead.

    Go make your driftwood sculpture but keep your hand out of my pocket. It isn’t your boss that pays for your healthcare and your phony jack off leisure time, it’s your brother.

    You perspective is smaller than your cock.

      1. F. Beard

        Not that there’s anything wrong with that. lambert strether

        I thought you were a fan of Apple instead of PC?

        And how odd PC is these days!

  56. Mark Hilgenberg

    It looks to me like you are taking a lot of things from various factions of the liberty movement and trying to lump them all together.

    For one thing, many so-called libertarians are pro-corporatist conservatives, they are not promoting actual individual liberty, and they just use similar rhetoric which obviously confuses many people.

    Liberty is about the absence of concentrations of power, these concentrations come from privileges granted by government. These are either corporate charter privileges, government employee privileges or government categorized group privileges.

    We all want a society where every individual is given a fair shot, we are not looking to create hierarchies of “equality”, no, some people (or entities) are not more equal than others.

    We are often accused of wanting to end regulations but it is rarely mentioned that corporations are government chartered creations. We want to hold the owners and executives liable for their actions not protect them with feel good, do nothing compromises (regulations). Adding risk to a corporate executive is the strongest form of regulation.

    I think you need to go back to the drawing board and look away from the Rand, Rothbard, right side of liberty and realize that the fastest growing and most complete versions of liberty are coming from the left wing of the movement.

  57. bblackmoor

    “Hey, these people have some common ground with these other people, at least in theory. They are, therefore, the same thing, even though they are absolutely, diametrically opposed on virtually every other issue.”

    Oh, look: another person who hasn’t the fainest clue what a libertarian is is writing a slam piece on them. How novel.

    I’ll file this with the articles claiming that vaccines cause autism.

    1. Passerby

      “I’ll file this with the articles claiming that vaccines cause autism.”

      There’s no evidence that vaccines cause autism. There is, however, ample evidence that autism causes libertarianism.

  58. Emily

    His utopia of “freedom” isn’t really freedom. Instead, it’s one person getting more free time at the expense of someone else being forced to work on behalf of another. He seems to believe that the lawyers, teachers, investment bankers, etc should work those long hours and and pay for his flexible working schedule so he can make “driftwood sculptures.” It’s not freedom, he just wants to force others to do what he wants.

  59. YourDogOfaWife

    Nothing to see here; wait, do you enjoy watching a few dreamy eyed commies, high fiving each other while they share a cigarette & post under 15 different names on their own article? Well pull up a seat!

    Oh & Connor, when you & your pack crawl back into your rent controlled rat hole, you might consider a small break from slow jacking each other, & instead doing some research into the politcal economic history of the world. It will help flush your shit ideas down the drain where they belong.

    1. Connor Kilpatrick

      Whoa, whoa, hold on there–that’s over the line. My rathole apartment is rent-STABILIZED, not rent-CONTROLLED.

  60. Arslan Amirkhanov

    The Libertarian checklist.

    Ad hominems, check!

    Accusations of strawman arguments, check!

    Claims that the author doesn’t understand libertarianism, because how could anyone with a sense of logic possibly disagree with libertarianism? CHECK!

    Claims that government regulation creates monopolies and huge corporations despite the fact that the entire historical record says exactly the opposite: CHECK!

    Claims that the author secretly wants to steal from people or oppress them with force? CHECK!

    Claims that only the government can steal or oppress people? CHECK!

    It has everything!!!

  61. Kieran Elia

    I loved the article. I think a great final note would be something about how many people still support measures that lead to the “servility of the rich” idea because of the “promise” that they “have the opportunity to become the rich one day.” People don’t accept that they may not achieve that place of privilege one day, and so they hold on to that futile hope and support measures that are better for the rich because of some unconscious inferiority complex. If they can associate with the permeating culture of wealth that looks so shiny and glistening, they can feel like they are part of that wealthy elite. Standing up against the servility propagated by the rich admits that I stand closer to the working class than the wealthy elite. And that’s not fulfilling my “American Dream” of wealth and power.

    It’s sad how people will hold on to that for their entire lives, and allow it to shit on them so heavily. The real wealthy elite love to propagate that supposed opportunity for this reason.

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