Anarchism/Anti-State

Where Are the “Markets Suck” Libertarians?

This post certainly raises some interesting theoretical questions

By Jason Brennan

Bleeding Heart Libertarians

Some libertarians claim that the good consequences of markets and private property form part of the moral justification of these institutions. However, others endorse absolutist or near absolutist deontological political philosophies. They hold that by following certain procedures we can come to acquire stringent and robust libertarian property rights, rights that cannot be overridden or outweighed by almost any competing moral concern. They think that the consequences of private property markets–in terms of promoting welfare, positive liberty, cultural progress, etc.–form no part of the moral justification of markets.

Where are the “markets suck!” libertarians? For instance, are there libertarians out there who accept Murray Rothbard’s theory of natural law, but who also accept something like Naomi Klein’s view of markets? Are there libertarians who think that justice requires strict libertarian property rights, but who accept Brian Barry’s contention that libertarianism will starve 10% of the population? Are there at least some libertarians who think that libertarianism is required by justice, but who think that almost all people would be better off in a highly regulated, tax-and-transfer social democracy?

Note, I’m not asking if there are libertarians who say that justice requires libertarianism even if markets suck. I’m asking if there are any libertarians who actually think something like, “Let’s have markets, even though Marx was right about markets.”

This isn’t a rhetorical question. I’d genuinely like to know if there are such people, especially prominent activists, writers, or published academics.

If there aren’t such libertarians, it’s a bit puzzling, isn’t it? After all, if you sincerely believed, say, Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s argumentation ethics argument for libertarian self-ownership (with all that Hoppe thinks this leads to), you would be a libertarian even if you rejected Austrian economics, even if you thought that libertarian economic systems led to massive market failure, even if you thought that the economy works the way Corey Robin thinks it does.

Consider, in contrast: David Estlund thinks that epistocracy would probably lead to better consequences than democracy, but he thinks epistocracy is ruled out on deontological grounds. G. A. Cohen at one point said that mainstream econonomics is basically sound, but still said that capitalism was unjust on deontological grounds.

Note: I have not criticized and am not insinuating any criticism of Rothbard or Hoppe here.

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