The lovely Bella Gerens complains that Leftism is easy, because the Left claims a monopoly on both morality and praxis —
The left wing is the fashionable, the powerful, the self-styled intellectual faction of our modern West. It self-represents as the pinnacle of both reason (‘we are right’) and emotion (‘we are good’).
Even the right acknowledge that those on the Left are basically good people, that their hearts are in the right place, and the only grounds for disagreement with Leftism is whether or not the ends justify the means.
The Leftists are winning. Apart from the brief foray into Reaganism/Thatcherism, the progress over the last fifty years has been towards more and more State intervention. The poor are getting richer and the starving are being fed, but this is in spite of government, not because of it.
The ideological dominance of Progressivism has given rise to a certain kind of Liberal — Libertarians today are expert and attacking the Left. We point out the messed up incentives in the welfare state, we point to the waste and inflexibility in the NHS. Every proposal they make, every new initiative, we have an answer to, yet they’re still winning.
Why? Because whilst Libertarians can hack at the branches of Leftism — the new laws and initiatives — we’ve conceded the roots; we’ve conceded that Leftists are good people, and that Leftism is a correct ideology.
This is wrong. It is we who have the monopoly on both the good and the correct:
On Morality: Ayn Rand has made the moral case for capitalism — a man enslaved to the needs of his brothers is as much as slave as he is to the plantation-owner.
On Praxis: Liberal Capitalism is the best method not just for sating our evil capitalist greed, but for achieving all those things the Left claim to hold dear too.
- Abolishing absolute poverty: Liberal Capitalist economies have seen rising wages and decreasing costs of living over the past two hundred years.
- Increasing human happiness: Liberal Capitalism permits individuals to make their own decisions about what makes them happy, rather than having a one-size-fits-all definition imposed on them.
- World Peace: Economic freedom is strongly correlated with peace and political stability. If men are trading with eachother, they will not fight.
- Environmental Protection: Economic Freedom is strongly correlated with increased environmental protection.
- Working time and Child Labour: The most free countries in the world can afford to abolish child labour, and have shorter working hours.
- Universal Healthcare: Liberal Capitalism brings new healthcare innovations to extend life expectancy, and makes old ones cheaper and affordable to all. Those in the most free countries can expect to live 20 years longer than those in the least free.
It’s time to stop attacking Leftism; it’s time to stop being the nay-sayers, the no-voters, the abstainers and rejectionists. Classical Liberalism has the potential to achieve everything Progressives desire, and empirical evidence clearly demonstrating past success. Lets sell Liberalism to the Left.
Filed under: Libertarianism, Philosophy, Views | Tags: ayn rand, creativity, leachers, men of mind, moochers, rand, state, the fountainhead
If there ever were two concepts so hopelessly confused it is selfishness and self-interest. Many say: “Oh you Libertarians, you believe everyone’s so completely selfish; they’d stab their own granny for two dollars.” Let us read again that oft-quoted passage of our favourite free marketeer (emphasis mine):
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.
So it is not selfishness Smith speaks of, but something he calls self-interest. What is this “self-interest” and why is it different to selfishness? I propose: self-interest is man’s natural expression of his evolutionary imperative. Selfishness is an unnatural expression of man’s evolutionary imperative.
Think about it: for homo sapiens sapiens to develop as a species, we each have a duty to ourselves and our family to insure the continuity of our genetic material; somewhere along the line someone learned that co-operation and mutual exchange helped everyone and impoverished no-one, so all across the planet parents teach their children the same maxim: theft is bad, murder is bad.
This is self-interest: Looking after yourself, your family, and your tribe. Fastening your own oxygen mask before helping your neighbour with theirs. Getting the women and children into the life-rafts first.
Selfishness is taking the self-love to such an extreme that you impair your own ability to reproduce — stealing from your neighbour so you can be full even though it leaves him hungry. Fastening your oxygen mask, then keeping your neighbour’s as well, just in case.
Self-interest is what makes the collective voluntary exchange we call the “market” work. Self-interested individuals help others happily and willingly: but family first, then friends, then neighbours. Selfish people do not help others (although they may be quite happy to force others to).
So when a Libertarian says “everyone is self-interested,” it’s not a criticism. Self-interest is fastening your own oxygen mask, before helping your neighbour with theirs.
Filed under: Libertarianism, Philosophy, Views | Tags: capitalism, democracy, public choice, the free market
In an ideal democracy, every individual has a direct and unrestrained voice in all decisions made that affect them. Ideally the policies affected by their vote also affect as few others as possible, so their votes are not diluted. The Scottish parliament for instance is a good thing democratically as it grants Scottish people a voice in issues that affect only Scotland, and devolves the scope of many policy areas, so the interests of the Scots are not diluted by the interests of the English, the Irish, the Cornish or the Welsh.
By that same token you could argue it best to devolve further. So that people’s voices on transport, health and education were only diluted by those in their county. Wiltshire could have a low income tax rate, but a completely privatised school system, whilst in Gloucstershire, private schools are illegal. Both counties have the school system their constituents want, and neither affects the other.
However, there are still people in each country having the decisions of the majority forced upon them. The only democratic thing to do is to devolve further, to the level of the individual. Each individual’s voice is alone, undiluted. They get only the services they ask for, the government they want, without affecting anyone else.
Oh wait, there’s a word for when each person selects the product they want from a number of competing alternatives.
The Free Market.
Filed under: Libertarianism
A Libertarian believes that individuals should be as free as is reasonably possible, but should be held responsible for their actions.
From this shared foundation, there spring many different sub-philosophies, divided into those that are “propertarian” (support the idea of private property) and those that are “non-propertarian”: Continue reading