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"Left-vs.-Right" is not the only false paradigm!

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Author Topic: "Left-vs.-Right" is not the only false paradigm!  (Read 4886 times)
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« on: August 25, 2010, 06:23:18 pm »

If I had to pick a label other than "geolibertarian" with which to describe myself ideologically, it would be progressive libertarian -- "libertarian" in the sense that I advocate limited government on both personal and economic issues, "progressive" in the sense that I believe efforts to reduce government spending should be directed at programs designed to assist the poor only to the extent that the tax, monetary and regulatory policies that created the apparent need for such programs in the first place are either abolished outright or structurally reformed.

If I were a Congressman, for instance, I would oppose efforts to repeal the minimum wage so long as Congress insisted on taxing wages to death. I would oppose cutting Medicare spending so long as Congress refused to relegalize alternative medicine (including medical ****) and revoke overextended drug patents (particularly those granted for "me-too" drugs and for drugs developed primarily at taxpayer expense). I would oppose cutting individual welfare so long as Congress insisted on wasting nearly $100 billion a year on corporate welfare. I would oppose cutting tax-funded job training programs so long as state governments refused to reduce occupational licensing barriers (see this and this).

The underlying principle of my approach to economic issues in general is crystallized in the following quote:

    "Social injustice, therefore, prevails, not on account, nor in spite, of Individualism, but through the absence of Individualism, through the active and passive disregard of equal individual freedom by the State. The removal of social injustice, therefore, is not to be obtained by still further interference with equal individual freedom, and still less by the abolition of individual freedom which Socialism contemplates; it can be obtained only by the removal of all interferences with individual freedom which exceeds that necessary for the maintenance of equal freedom for all.

    "This conclusion is not invalidated by the admission that remedial measures involving further restrictions of individual freedoms...may have had beneficial results. For if State limitations of individual and equal freedom have deprived the majority of the people of independence and power to resist capitalistic oppression, as they have done and are still doing, restrictions placed upon the oppressors, otherwise unnecessary, may to some extent alleviate the oppression. Nevertheless, it is clear that such consequential interferences would be unnecessary if, through the removal of the original interferences, the balance of power were restored. At their best, moreover, they are merely attempts to alleviate symptoms without touching the cause of social disease."

-- Max Hirsch, Democracy vs. Socialism, pp. 254-5

Now, to fully understand and appreciate the progressive libertarian approach to public policy reform, one must understand the issue of privilege:



Behind all issues lies the problem of privilege -- legal mechanisms that give some people artificial advantages over others, enabling them to enrich themselves at the expense of others. Political privileges give leverage in the political system, ultimately conferring a political monopoly over others. Economic privileges are similarly leveraged over time into economic monopoly.

Three privileges stand out. The core political privilege is the way we choose leaders. What was supposed to be citizens deliberating and choosing officials to serve them has degenerated into a competition by those who want more and more political power over a largely passive electorate. The economic privileges are a land tenure system that allows some people to monopolize the earth and its resources and a monetary system that lets private institutions lend money that was created out of nothing into circulation.

Other economic privileges include privately owned public utilities, monopoly franchises, over-extended intellectual property laws, subsidies, artificial restrictions on competition, and policies that benefit established businesses to the detriment of potential new competitors.

They tie together because people with economic privileges help those in office keep their political privileges and those in office reciprocate.



Royal libertarians (of which Austrian Schoolers are a subset) are fond of railing against the "welfare state" that was instituted by FDR and then expanded by LBJ. Yet what they refuse to acknowledge is what created in the minds of the masses the apparent need for a welfare state in the first place.

It was the original layer of economic privileges that had been bestowed to the rich -- and the horrid economic conditions to which that original layer had, in turn, given rise -- that created the widespread demand for all of these additional layers of compensatory and/or offsetting privileges for the poor.


"This imperfect policy of non-intervention, or laissez-faire, led straight to a most hideous and dreadful economic exploitation; starvation wages, slum dwelling, killing hours, pauperism, coffin-ships, child-labour -- nothing like it had ever been seen in modern times....People began to say, perhaps naturally, if this is what State absentation comes to, let us have some State intervention.

"But the State had intervened; that was the whole trouble. The State had established one monopoly, -- the landlord's monopoly of economic rent, -- thereby shutting off great hordes of people from free access to the only source of human subsistence, and driving them into the factories to work for whatever Mr. Gradgrind and Mr. Bottles chose to give them. The land of England, while by no means nearly all actually occupied, was all legally occupied; and this State-created monopoly enabled landlords to satisfy their needs and desires with little exertion or none, but it also removed the land from competition with industry in the labour market, thus creating a huge, constant and exigent labour-surplus." [Emphasis original]

-- Albert Jay Nock, Free Speech and Plain Language, pp. 320-1


As they say, a picture speaks a thousand words. And although I generally support limited government and free enterprise (I'm a Georgist on economic matters, not a Marxist), I nevertheless think the following image accurately reflects both the corporate monstrosity that laughingly passes for "capitalism" these days and the plutocracy that laughingly passes for "democracy."

And as Max Hirsch correctly points out, if the "original" privileges were simply eliminated, then socioeconomic conditions would so improve that there would soon thereafter cease to be a widely perceived need for all of the bureaucracy-ridden additional ones -- at which point they could be easily and gracefully phased out of existence and replaced with a Guaranteed Income (see this).

Thus, the difference between progressive libertarians and royal libertarians is that the latter want to start abolishing privileges at the bottom of the power pyramid and work their way upward (and even then only to a point), whereas the former want to start at the top and work their way downward.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2011, 11:28:50 am by Geolibertarian » Report Spam   Logged

"For the first years of [Ludwig von] Mises’s life in the United States...he was almost totally dependent on annual research grants from the Rockefeller Foundation.” -- Richard M. Ebeling
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