This piece on Salon is an elongated diatribe, meant to skewer libertarianism. It skewers something, but all it really gets at is a strawman and/or the GOP, not libertarian political or economic philosophy. Nonetheless, I’m going to offer answers to the questions asked by the author, in the hopes that Salon and others will stop with these silly strawmen and actually engage in a real discussion of these issues.
Are unions, political parties, elections, and social movements like Occupy examples of “spontaneous order”—and if not, why not? Yes, they are. They are forms of voluntary association, which no consistent libertarian would oppose. When libertarians start to oppose unions, political parties, elections, and social movements is only the point at which they attempt to use force to further their cause, such as when a violent union determines to use force to keep workers from crossing the picket lines.
Is a libertarian willing to admit that production is the result of many forces, each of which should be recognized and rewarded? Yes. Libertarian philosophy recognizes that all members of a free trade both benefit and offer benefit to the other parties. Any and all parties involved in a voluntary exchange have the right to negotiate and do as they please in that process.
Is our libertarian willing to acknowledge that workers who bargain for their services, individually and collectively, are also employing market forces? Yes, yes they are. Libertarians are in favor of any and all voluntary association, any and all negotiation to get to that agreement, and any and all free market forces. The author offers this example to show how her strawman libertarian ruins everything: “But victims of illegal foreclosure are neither ‘freer’ nor ‘more prosperous’ after the government deregulation which led to their exploitation. What’s more, deregulation has led to a series of documented banker crimes that include stockholder fraud and investor fraud.” This example is in no way related to libertarian political or economic theory, as it deals with government subsidized central banking. As it turns out, when the government deregulates, it tends to abuse people. Who would have thought?
Is our libertarian willing to admit that a “free market” needs regulation? Absolutely not. The market itself needs no regulation, the only thing that needs regulation are those who steal through breaking the terms of the agreements they come to on the market.
Does our libertarian believe in democracy? If yes, explain what’s wrong with governments that regulate. No, libertarians do not believe in democracy. In the same way it’s not right for one man to assert his will over another man, it’s immoral for a majority of people to assert their collective will over another (or others) who do not agree with them.
Does our libertarian use wealth that wouldn’t exist without government in order to preach against the role of government? I answer this with a question of my own: What does the government produce? What does it have that it did not first take? The state makes nothing, all it does it take, and then redistribute in such a way as to appear that it has “produced” something that could have just as easily been made on the free market.
Does our libertarian reject any and all government protection for his intellectual property? There’s an ongoing debate in libertarian circles regarding intellectual property, but I would answer that intellectual property is a legitimate thing that ought to be defended, but not necessarily by a central government.
Does our libertarian recognize that democracy is a form of marketplace? No. Democracy is not a marketplace, or anything like it. Democracy is a group of people imposing their will on individuals who disagree with them by using the arm of the state. It is not a market in which agreements are voluntarily reached, it is two wolves and one sheep choosing what’s for dinner.
Does our libertarian recognize that large corporations are a threat to our freedoms? Of course, if by large corporations the author is referring to those corporations that are propped up by the state in a crony capitalist system, yes, they are a threat to freedoms. The beauty of a truly free market is that no monopolies would exist, in that every time a large company began to raise their prices too high, a new startup will come in and undercut them on price while providing a comparable service.
“The man who attempts to live for others is a dependent. He is a parasite in motive and makes parasites of those he serves.” -Ayn Rand Does he think that Rand was off the mark on this one, or does he agree that historical figures like King and Gandhi were “parasites”? The equation of Ayn Rand and libertarianism has to stop. Ayn Rand had an incredible understanding of economics and politics, but her moral objectivism was woefully off the mark, and should not be used to bash libertarianism as a whole.
If you believe in the free market, why weren’t you willing to accept as final the judgment against libertarianism rendered decades ago in the free and unfettered marketplace of ideas? Because the “free and unfettered marketplace of ideas” has been under state control for centuries. When the state has the power of education and propaganda in their hands, they’re able to do a very good job of making anything not the state look evil, demeaning, and unuseful, but libertarianism is anything but these things. If the state relinquished their (by force) monopoly on education, we would see a very different landscape in the arena of political thought.
There it is. Eleven questions, eleven answers. Clearly those asking the questions either misunderstand libertarian political, economic, and moral theory, or have determined to dishonestly skewer strawmen of their own making while labeling them as libertarian.