On Good Government and Libertarianism

The most effective way to convince someone to do what you want is to start from a shared set of assumptions and values. Whether you use rhetoric, logic, or propaganda in your arguments, you will have a much better success rate if you can get the other people to see that you at least start somewhere that makes them comfortable.

When I was active in the libertarian movement, I believed that the others who thought as I did were the real Americans, those who truly supported the vision of the Founding Fathers. Now that I’ve been out of that movement for several years, I’ve come to realize how mistaken I was. So, I hope my readers will forgive me for using this blog to work out my thoughts on what is wrong with libertarianism.

(After all, as I explained on my Why I Blog page and in The Who and Why of This Blog post, one reason this blog exists is to give me a place to figure out what I believe and think.)

If you truly believe that the Founding Fathers and those who followed in their footsteps valued individuals over community, the rights of one person over the common welfare of the society, and property over the needs of government, you need to read more actual history and less partisan spin sponsored by billionaire-backed think tanks.

Those who believe that the company store is less of a government than the sheriff that enforces its mandates simply do not understand how power flows, how government has always been involved in the market place, and how much the myth of the free market blinds them to what has been going on for all the decades that the USA has existed.

The claim that libertarians (and their fellow-Koch-sponsorees the Tea Party) make that good government is always and everywhere a lie, this claim is an insult to the American experiment in citizen self-government, to all those who died protecting the Union in the Civil War and democracy in WW1 and WW2, and to every civil servant who has honorably and ably served the public, despite all the obstacles so often placed in their way. Furthermore, it is ahistorical, as history has shown many examples of good government in action.

While it is true that Big Government is much more likely to be a weapon seized and wielded by the monied elite, to go from that to a suggestion that therefore government must be reduced in size while leaving big business to stride across the globe unchecked is utter folly.

No, the answer is to do as has been done many times throughout our history — for the people to retake our government and use it both to reduce the amount of capital in far too few hands and the amount of power misused for purposes that benefit that capital over all other values.

Another recently-heard claim from the anti-government crowd is that reformers are patsies of the monied elite and any attempt to fix the problems that are inherent to a society with such drastic capital and wealth and income inequalities will only serve to make them worse.

I find it particularly ridiculous that those who advance this notion do so on the basis of a libertarian philosophy that, while it speaks of freedom and liberty for all, is actually the hand maiden to reducing our government’s ability to rein in the excesses of the monied elite. Thus, those who charge government reformers with being patsies or stooges are themselves precisely that, as the net result of following their advice would be to enhance the power of those who already control the vast majority of all the wealth, capital, and income in the country.

If your much-vaunted liberty requires wealth and income in order to exercise it, if all the amenities and necessities of life must be bought and paid for in gold or other forms of money, then your so-called freedom is limited to those who are able to succeed in the market place and those upon whom they take pity or those to whom they bequeath  an inheritance. That leaves out most of We the People in the current situation, as the deck is stacked against us by those who already have theirs.

The rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness matter very little if you can’t afford to exercise them, as an increasing number of We the People are finding to be the case.

The liberty that libertarians seek is that wet-dream of capitalists throughout the ages, to do as they please because no one can tell them no, least of all those who are less wealthy than they are. This is not the American vision. It is the whiny demand of four-year-olds everywhere, even if it’s sometimes wrapped in adult-sounding anarchist jibber-jabber.

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About Tim Gatewood

55+, male, widowed (May 2016). Mobile notary public and signing agent, freelance writer, and ordained minister. Science fiction and fantasy fan, willing servant to cats, avid reader and collector of books and other stuff. Please see my websites (including this blog and others) for more info on me and what I think about the issues of the day.
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