Why I hate Libertarianism
The beginning of an investigation
I hate Libertarianism. I find it difficult to argue with Libertarians without getting angry. For a long time, I have wanted to articulate why I have such a strong anti-Libertarian bias. I keep putting this off because it will require several essays — significant time and energy on my part. I also doubt it will lead anywhere or help to solve anything. Libertarians tend to be ideologically fixated, staunch believers in their position. But to hell with it — let’s jump in.
I suspect that the ideological fixity one encounters in Libertarians is connected to deep psychological conditioning and ancestral traits (of course, the same might be said of anyone’s beliefs, mine included). All of the Libertarians I have tried to argue with are Americans and white, almost all men, and most (not all) from privileged backgrounds. A number of them are Bitcoin maximalists. My sense is that Libertarians possess a psychological need to find a “rational” defense, an argument, to justify inherent power, privilege, and wealth. They do this by fixating on a philosophy that is dangerous nonsense — yet hugely influential in the US.
Let me start out by stating my political ideals and biases. I consider myself an anarchist. Ideally, I would prefer the dissolution of any large-scale state apparatus in favor of peaceful, fluidic “voluntary associations.” I believe that not only physical but intellectual property rights restrict innovation and creativity and should be eliminated. But I also believe we have to deal with the cumbersome, unjust reality we are in now, which no amount of idealism, unfortunately, will wish away.
Libertarians believe in individual rights (“the sovereign individual” is a popular catchphrase), free markets, and private property. They believe that the State is an ultimate evil that should be reduced to the smallest function possible: Protecting private property rights, above all. In this newsletter and following ones, I will consider — and seek to dismantle — the Libertarian shibboleths.
Libertarians believe in property rights as some ultimate reality society must abide by and protect. I do not agree. I side with Jean-Jaques Rousseau’s “Discourse on the Origins of Inequality.” He proposed that the artificially imposed construct of private property is the root of our civilization’s misfortunes. Rousseau wrote:
“The first man who having enclosed a piece of land thought of saying ‘This is mine’ and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. How many crimes, wars, murders, how much misery and horror the human race would have been spared if someone had pulled up the stakes and filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: ‘Beware of this impostor: you are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to everyone and that the earth itself belongs to no one.”
While some critique Rousseau for idealizing the “Noble Savage,” I find that many indigenous societies in North and South America were, indeed, more wisely designed — more just, equitable, spiritually sane, and ecologically regenerative — than Anglo-European societies. They had a different conception of property rights and ensured an equitable distribution of wealth among their communities.
By the way, I am not saying we should immediately bring an end to our system of private property through some revolution. That would cause chaos. I think we should, first, reframe the discussion by expanding its parameters to consider other cultures that existed without this mental abstraction and legal fiction.
Right now, I am studying this marvelous essay, “The Iroquois Great Law of Peace and the United States Constitution: How the Founding Fathers Ignored the Clan Mothers,” which looks at the influence that the Iroquois political system had on the US Founding Fathers.
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