The term “Libertarian” has long been synonymous with “Asshole” in my estimation, and I think it’s safe to say that Jacobin magazine editor Connor Kilpatrick probably feels the same way.
Today is the centenary anniversary of the birth of Libertarian icon, economist Milton Friedlman, so what better day for the publication of the most viciously hilarious takedpown of the Libertarian position that I think I’ve ever read?
Excerpted from the much longer “It’s Hip! It’s Cool! It’s Libertarianism!” which was cross-posted today at both Naked Capitalism and The Exiled:Standing ovation!
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.
Read more of Connor Kilpatrick’s “It’s Hip! It’s Cool! It’s Libertarianism!” at either The Exiled or at Naked Capitalism. Trust me it’s a fantastic, totally worthwhile read.
Predictably, the reddit thread about Kilpatrick’s article is fascinating, too!
Saturday, August 4, 2012