The Libertarian Hypocrite Test - Answered
by Ethan Glover, Wed, Sep 18, 2013 - (Edited) Sat, Nov 11, 2017
Salon recently posted an article titled, "11 questions to see if libertarians are hypocrites". I have posted my own criticisms of libertarianism that concentrate on the hypocrisy of the Libertarian Party. This particular article reposted by Salon acts like its concentration is on the Koch brothers/Cato Institute hypocrisy but show no focus or understanding of the separation between such groups and foundational libertarian philosophy. Let's skip the introduction which can be addressed by my Libertarianism Criticism and go straight for the fun stuff, the 11 question test!
Are unions, political parties, elections, and social movements like Occupy examples of "spontaneous order" - and if not, why not?
Spontaneous order is a generally used term and not necessarily a formally defined one, but because I like to start with clearly defined words let's just go with Wikipedia. "Spontaneous order ... is the spontaneous emergence of order out of seeming chaos. ...is typically used to describe the emergence of various kinds of social orders from a combination of self-interested individuals who are not intentionally trying to create order through planning." [Emphasis added]
If spontaneous order comes without planning than unions, political parties, elections and Occupy are not examples. An example of spontaneous order would be a free market in which people simply make transactions that benefit them. When everybody does this a natural supply and demand, mediums of exchange and standard prices emerge.
When the article talks about demonstrations and political movements it is not talking about spontaneous order it is talking about coordination among individuals. When Cato talks about society arising spontaneously through the actions of millions they are talking about (or should be talking about) the concept of mutual transaction. When two people agree with trade, fund or participate in something they do so in their own interest whether it is for investment, pleasure or other means. When two people coordinate in a way that is in their best interest, both parties win.
Is a libertarian willing to admit that production is the result of many forces, each of which should be recognized and rewarded?
There's one thing I want to get out of the way here, the language throughout this article is very degrading and dehumanizing. "Is a libertarian willing to admit.."? The article is meant to incite anger which of course always gets plenty of views.
Anyways, I am, yes. Why this is hypocritical I do not know. People trade in and create complicated businesses. That is natural in modern day society. The article prefaces this question with Cato's reference to politicians as nonproducers. It can be argued, albeit not well that politicians do provide some sort of service. The point is that it is not voluntary and harms at least one party 100% of the time. Value is subjective, and when politicians steal money in order to "provide a service" they gain value with a paycheck while not necessarily providing any value to anyone else, no matter what they do.
If I don't want to pay for public schools or a monopolized postal service, than those services are of no value to me. The politicians that make such things happen may have provided value to someone but at the expense of my value. This is not production. It is theft and redistribution. When investors "manipulate" money, they do so through mutual transactions in which parties are receiving value and investors are being voluntarily paid for their production.
Is our libertarian willing to acknowledge that workers who bargain for their services, individually and collectively, are also employing market forces?
Yes, unions are great, so long as they are not forced and funded by the mafia (government). Collective bargaining can be a powerful way for employees to gain power over their employers. At the same time, there is nothing wrong with employers hiring different people who are willing to do the work for less. When employers are given the opportunity to compete for workers, we see the emergence of high quality work in some areas and more low wage jobs that can create the experience needed to get better jobs in others. This article has yet to show an inkling of hypocrisy.
Is our libertarian willing to admit that a "free market" needs regulation?
I like how this question is preceded by evil stories of the government protected Wall Street corporations that have set themselves up to be "too big to fail". How does this writer (R.J. Eskow) bring up "illegal foreclosures" without immediately thinking of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? A free market can develop regulation for itself. For instance, if a bank sells a mortgage it must do so with a contract, a person is wise to read that contract, and if he/she does not understand it, it's always nice to go over it with a lawyer. There's this idea that people are too stupid to take a contract home before signing it and reading through it, maybe with a dictionary in hand. Ask questions about it and force the bank to give you a full explanation of everything. When a company does something illegal they should be subject to the law, private law at that. Government law protects its own interests which include the too big to fail corporations this article talks about.
Does our libertarian believe in democracy? If yes, explain what's wrong with governments that regulate?
Libertarians who use the internet are hypocritical because it was created by government research..... Wow, where do I begin? Colonel Sanders was once a lawyer and assaulted his own client in court. Does that mean I shouldn't enjoy some damn fine chicken now and then? The fact is the internet is now deregulated and mostly uncontrollable (which is a good thing). It is a great example of what can come of "spontaneous order".
The article also claims that the choice in government is between democracy and "the iron-fisted rule of wealth, administered by those who hold the most of it." I always hate the assumption that in a free society, rich people will all of the sudden become crazy criminals, act as dictators and somehow keep their money and not end up in jail. The fact that this conclusion is ever taken seriously is a testament of the human imagination. Entrepreneurs generally like to make money and often gain a lot of money by making customers happy. Most of them don't have the time or the will to be building secret armies to take your precious healthcare and mortgages away. If there are any, crimes are crimes in the free world and those who break the law go to jail, no matter who does it. The same can not be said in the world of politics.
So to answer the question, no I don't believe in democracy. I believe in freedom.
Does our libertarian use wealth that wouldn't exist without government in order to preach against the role of government?
Ok, the crap that comes before this question is... amazing. It harkens to the, "If you're a libertarian, why do you drive on public roads?" argument. Which is ridiculous on so many levels. When you have no choice, you have no choice. Just because I am forced to do something, doesn't mean I have to like it. That being said, the concentration on Peter Thiel shows the authors lack of any real arguments. If you can't apply the claims to the entire group, you're already wrong before you've opened your mouth.
The actual question is about using wealth from the government. To which we must ask, where does the government get its wealth? Not through voluntary interactions, but theft and monopoly. The government has no wealth. It only has what it has stolen. Plus it has trillions of dollars in debt on top of that. It prints fake money. This wealth you speak of... where is it? Nobody uses the governments wealth for anything. They use force of governments to steal money from others. Peter Thiel is not an example of this.
Some "libertarians" like to use the wealth that has been stolen from them, how they keep track of exactly how much has been stolen I don't know. But it's not 100% evil to use the government against itself. Many libertarians have different views on this, but it is not hypocritical. What is hypocritical is saying that any "wealth" in the possession of the government belongs to the government.
Does our libertarian reject any and all government protection for his intellectual property?
Oh.. you know what? This is just another Ayn Rand, rich people are bad hit piece. I see... it has nothing to do with libertarians! Well, I'm already in it now.
Yes, yes I do.
Does our libertarian recognize that democracy is a form of marketplace?
An extortionate one yes. Voting is the act of the majority forcing its will on the minority, and the Libertarian Party is very much guilty of this. A democratically elected government is not "spontaneous order" because it is planned. Plus, the corporations the author talks about with this question are protected by the government, they are not representative of capitalism or freedom.
Does our libertarian recognize that large corporations are a threat to our freedoms?
To whose freedoms and where? It's not a threat to the freedom of association, its not a threat to the freedom of choice. If people are willing to work for a company by their own choice, that's their choice. A socialist might think corporations are a threat to them because they are bratty and want to force people to buy into co-ops. Companies, subject to law (ie. not corporation protected by law), are no threat and are made up of mutual and wanted interactions.
Does he think that Rand was off the mark on this one, or does he agree that historical figures like Kong and Gandhi were "parasites"?
How is Ayn Rand the face of libertarianism? Can't anyone attack Murray Rothbard for once? Just to mix things up? How about Tom Woods, go after that guy. Anybody but Rand really. I don't agree with Rand when she says, "The man who attempts to live for others is a dependent. He is a parasite in motive and makes parasites of those he serves." Altruistic people serve a great role in society as all kinds of people do. I don't know of anyone of any political leanings who look at this particular quote as gospel. It's very specific one and really doesn't work against libertarians.
If you believe in the free market, why weren't you willing to accept as the final judgement against libertarianism rendered decades ago in the free and unfettered marketplace of ideas?
The what? When? Where? How is it that the lack of a free market is a free market decision? The "free market" isn't just some "system" that we all agree to by some sort of vote. It is an explanation of what happens naturally without intervention. The free market is not subject to the free market just like the gravity is not subject to gravity. That is, the ideas or the explanations of a natural occurrence can not be negated by the natural occurrence itself.
Now, here's the super extra credit, the anarchists magic bullet. If you, as an individual want to live under a socialist society, you have every right to do so. You may find a community of like minded individuals and create such a society by contract. What you do not have a right to do is force that system of others and force them to pay for your ponzi schemes.
Libertarians have every right to expect the same in return. Do you think it's a pipe dream or utopic? Let them figure it out on their own.
You can watch Stefan Molyneux's response to this article below: