Over the past few years I've written many times about world events that show flaws in the ideology of pure libertarianism. The recent series on the Good and Bad of Socialism and Capitalism brought out parts of this thinking, too. Recent discussions with a friend of mine and some reading produced new thinking - Bunkerman never stops thinking - that I will post in new series here this week on The Flaws of Pure Libertarianism. Note the "Pure" - nothing that I will post contradicts or impairs my recent proof and belief that the optimal political system is Fraternal Libertarianism. The coming US election and the froth in the Tea Parties, however, makes this a good time to re-examine Libertarianism at its core.
The first flaw is critical. Libertarian revere Friedrich Hayek, whose superb book, The Road to Serfdom, exposes a fundamental flaw in Socialism, which is an important ideological competitor to Libertarianism. Here's the gist: socialism concentrates economic power in the government. Ruthless, unprincipled people will gain power in the government through that ruthlessness and thence be able to control the lives of everyone. Hence leading all people down the "Road to Serfdom". Fine. It's true and has happened. Soviet Russia is the text book example.
Let's think about Libertarianism. Its unfettered economic freedom will lead to great concentrations of wealth as many local variables will give some persons advantages over others: innovation, luck, etc. Simple innovation gives much concentrated power - being first. That contains some good - innovation is rewarded. The 19th century is littered with example of inventions leading to great wealth via the sheer usefulness of that invention. That is fine. Luck also helps. Bill Gates' firm was selected by IBM to provide the operating system for its PC that set the model for almost all PCs for decades. His father had connections to IBM. His operating system sucked, but he got the order. Luck.
Wealth is Power. Massive wealth can be used to gain political and legal power, that in turn leads to more and more wealth, and to protect that wealth. A Ruling Class is formed by connections between (A) the concentrations of Wealth that naturally arise from Libertarianism and the (B) the desire for wealth by the legal and lobbying courtiers clustered around the centers of governmental power. [Remember, government does exist in Pure Libertarianism, if simply for protection from violence. Robert Nozick proved this in his great work, Anarchy, State and Utopia.]
And that Ruling Class then makes laws and rules to entrench and increase the wealth and power of the Ruling Class. Over time they enserf the common man.
QED: Pure Libertarianism leads to Serfdom for the common man. Libertarianism fails to withstand the analysis of Hayek. This is fatal to Pure Libertarianism.
Examples are the 9th century in Europe, the 19th century in America and the 1990s in Russia.
Tomorrow I will examine the stability of the Libertarian system. Will it inevitably lead to the failure outlined above?
Fraternal Libertarianism does NOT succumb to the Hayek criticism. Its inherent hard controls on the Ruling Classes prevent them from gaining sufficient power to enserf the common man.
Word of the Day
"Supernal" - adjective [$10] esp. poetic
Supernal means 1. heavenly, divine; 2. of or concerning the sky; 3. lofty (of more than earthly or human excellence, powers, etc.)
Sentence: Devotees to pure Libertarianism wax eloquently about the goodness and benefits of that ideology, ascribing it near supernal powers. But on examination, that systems has fatal flaws that Bunkerman will expose this week.