[ExI] Call To Libertarians

Richard Loosemore rpwl at lightlink.com
Sat Feb 19 16:51:48 UTC 2011

Darren Greer wrote:
>>Only different to those who cannot understand the inevitable end-point 
> of libertarianism.<
> Just as the end-point of democracy is a stagnant bureaucratic state? The 
> end-point of capitalism is fascism and plutocracy? The end-point of 
> socialism is military dictatorship? 
> The end-point of any system is a situation of extremes and therefore not 
> desirable. When I asked the question I made the assumption that was 
> understood. I was looking for a bit of a nuanced interpretation, much 
> like the one Fred gave. I understand that political discourse tends to 
> evoke passionate responses, but I should have made myself clearer: I was 
> looking for an intellectual response, not a politicized, emotive one. My 
> error.

I think you mistake the seriousness behind my reply (and Olga's).

Systems settle down into a balance of exchanges -- a state in which all 
the players locally are trying to get what they want in various ways, so 
that a situation emerges in which those players more or less accept a 
set of exchanges that satisfy them.

Looking at the list of political systems you give above -- democracy, 
captialism, socialism etc. -- we can OBJECTIVELY ask questions about how 
those kinds of systems will settle down, given enough time.  We cannot 
find perfectly good answers to our questions (or we would all be Hari 
Seldons), but we can do some "sanity checks" on the basic ideas in those 

One sanity check (according to people like myself and, perhaps Olga 
(though I make no pretence to speak for her)) yields one glaring, 
massive difference between the fundamental philosophy held by most 
libertarians and the philosophies held by those who cheer for the other 
political philosophies that you list.

Libertarianism contains a glaring contradiction within it, which makes 
it clear that it could never actually work in practice, but would 
instead lead to Somalia-like anarchy and chaos.  In what follows I will 
try to explain what I mean by this.

Libertarianism cherishes the idea that "government" should be reduced to 
the smallest possible size, and that individuals should take full 
responsibility for paying for -- or cheating others out of -- the things 
they need.  But at the same time Libertarians also want the advantages 
of civilization.  The problem is, that the things that they want to cut 
or drastically reduce are the "commons" aspects of modern civilisation 
.... all those aspects that have to do with people coming together and 
realizing that it is in everyone's best interest if the community is 
forced to pool their resources to pay for things like roads and theaters 
and bridges and schools and police forces.

The core of the contradiction is that what the Libertarian wants to do 
is LOCALLY sensible, but globally crazy.  From the point of view of the 
individual libertarian, nothing but good can come from getting the 
government out of their wallet.  Every libertarian on the planet would 
see an immediate increase in their well-being if that happened.  But 
that increase in their well being is predicated on the assumption that 
nothing else changes in the society around them: that all the balances 
and exchanges now established continue to operate as before.  If society 
continues to operate as normal, the local well-being of every 
libertarian is immensely increased, withiout a shadow of a doubt, but 
that is only true if everthing else continues to run as it always has done.

The mistake -- the glaring contradiction -- is this assumption that 
everthing else will stay just as it is while all the libertarians are 
counting the new money in their pocket, and setting up their own private 
arrangements to pay for healthcare, to pay road tolls on every street, 
to hire private police forces to look after them, to pay for their kids 
to go to school, to pay for a snow plow to come visit their street in 
the winter, and so on.  Why is this assumption wrong?  Because the 
entire edifice of modern civilisation is built on that assumption about 
taxation and pooling of resources for the common good.  Taxation and 
government and redistribution of wealth are what separate us from the 
dark ages.  The concept of taxation + government + redistribution of 
wealth was the INCREDIBLE INVENTION that allowed human societies in at 
least one corner of this planet to emerge from feudal societies where 
everyone looked after themselves and the devil took the hindmost.

This fact about libertarianism is so easy to model, that the conclusion 
about "SOMALIA == the Libertarian Paradise" is almost a no-brainer. 
What I mean by "easy to model" is that when we try to understand the end 
point of other political philosophies it really is pretty hard to see 
exactly where they will go.  But in the case of libertarianism, it only 
takes a few questions to start revealing that terrifying, inevitable 
slide toward feudalism.  The questions we would ask are questions about 
what exactly would happen when all the libertarians set up accounts to 
pay for their toll-roads, healthcare, schools, snow plows etc. etc., but 
the vast underbelly of modern society cannot do the same because they do 
not have the resources.  Questions about what directions the private 
police forces would go when they have a client base that they must make 
happy, rather than a hierarchy that goes up to the nation-state level. 
And so on.  We can model those local changes quite easily because we 
have plenty of examples of what happens when those circumstances are set up.

So in the case of libertarianism, the answers to those questions are 
really REALLY easy to come up with, and they all point toward anarchy 
and feudalism.  There are simply no good answers to those questions 
(i.e. no answers that clearly demonstrate that there is a way to push 
the system toward a stable state).

This is the reason why the world has had, over the years, plenty of 
"democracies", "stagnant bureaucratic states", "capitalist states", 
"fascist states", "plutocracies", "socialist states" and "military 
dictatorships" ...... but not one "libertarian state".

Or rather, according to the analysis of those who have thought about it 
in an objective way, the world HAS had many libertarian states:  they 
were all the rage in the dark ages, and they are now springing up like 
wild mushrooms in a bog, in places like Somalia.

So, those were really not just shallow comments that I made, and that 
Olga made, for all that they were delivered with a wry smile.  There is 
a difference between the searches for an end-point of all the various 
political philosophies:  libertarianism is a glaringly obvious 
"locally-smart + globally dumb" philosophy, whereas the others are all 
much much harder to call.

Richard Loosemore

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