The Talking Lion

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The ahistoricality of libertarianism...

...or The Wages of History. More or less prompted by Arun's last post, I am going to state a conclusion that I won't, at this time, argue for at all, because I'm about to head up to NYC and I just don't have the time.

This is my problem with libertarianism (OK, my biggest theoretical problem): it lacks a complete sense of history, and, ergo, of justice. Libertarians like to think that if we would just stop interfering (we liberals, and I don't know what they mean by interfering other than taxing and regulating) with business, everything would be in some sense equalized and the problems will go away. This completely ignores the fact that liberal policies throughout the twentieth century have led to an increase in affluence, and that anytime we return to pre-Rooseveltian (either Roosevelt) policies, the gap between the rich and the poor widens, and markets become less stable. Conclusion: libertarians' views of the economy and of justice lack any historical perspective.

3 Comments:

  • The definition of liberal carried a different meaning back in the Roosevelt days, at least Teddy. You need to read Freidman when I'm done with it. But if you don't believe me cuz I sweat and can't move when I smoke, I understand.

    By Anonymous Drew, at Saturday, 09 July, 2005  

  • Drew's right Pat. You need to think through this "libertarianism is bad because people I don't like politically support many of its philosophical underpinnings" argument (see privatization of SS). It may work on this blog with your home base o' readers, but not at U of Chicago, or even Harvard.

    What do you mean by liberal policies? What do you mean by affluence? What caused the Great Depression? What got us out of the Greak Depression? How do you define the gap between the rich and the poor? What is a libertarian? Why were Roosevelt's policies good/bad? Then answer the same for Truman, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter (special emphasis), Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and W. While you're at that, it would also be important to look at Hoover, Coolidge, Harding, Wilson, Taft, Teddy - as you already mentioned, McKinley, etc. Maybe the gold standars, the creation of the Federal Reserve, Bretton Woods, NAFTA.

    My point is this - the synergy of economics and politics is way too complex to be reduced to over-arching statements about any strain of thought. To debunk socialism properly takes reading dozens of books and years of study, which I am sadly only about 3% done with.

    In happier news, I did see Joyce's Dublin this weekend, and already find reading Dubliners to be much easier. Alas, I will hopefully complete Ulysses with both eyes in their sockets.

    By Blogger Kevin, at Sunday, 10 July, 2005  

  • Pourquoi "alas"?

    I'm not, as should become clearer and clearer, in any way talking about reality, but rather, "reality", that punditricious labyrinth of talk which so rarely meets up with reality, and even more rarely allows one to discourse about the real world. So my comment had no bearing on real events and facts, except for the facts of the "facts", what is being said. Tierney, of course, claims to be a "libertarian", and many others do too; it's becoming quite hip. My attack is on the pundits and ideologues, not the scholars (and not all those posing as "intellectuals" are scholars).

    Having opinions is easy; knowing anything is very hard, and our culture demands that everyone has opinions about everything, which has the unfortunate consequence of making actual knowledge seem like opinion. This is the dark underbelly of capitalist democratism, I'm afraid. I'm more and more trying to acknowledge my ignorance, and not raise my voice about what I do not know--and by that I mean have an emprically rigorous justification for endorsing some proposition.

    By Blogger Patrick, at Monday, 11 July, 2005  

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